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Born in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia in 1919, Thurman Miller was the sixteenth of eighteen children in a family so poor, the local coal miner's kids looked down on them. For Thurman, Appalachia was not just a region: it was culture, a frame of mind, a history, a family, a being.
Miller enlisted in 1940 and served in World War II with the legendary unit K-3-5 of the First Marine Division, made famous in HBO's The Pacific. He was involved in some of the most horrific battles in the Pacific Theater, including Guadalcanal and New Britain, where as Gunney Sergeant he sent men to their deaths and narrowly escaped it himself.
Upon returning stateside, suffering badly from the malaria he contracted in the Pacific and unable to find work, Miller took a job in the coal mines in his home state of West Virginia, where he toiled in darkness for thirty-seven years. The blackness of the mines fed the terrors he lived with since the battlefield and the backbreaking labor ate away at his already compromised body. Bowed but unbroken, Miller survived because of his strength and lifelong devotion to his beloved wife of sixty-five years - a relationship that shines brightly in this distinctly American journey.
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