Dear friends: It's with a heavy heart we let you know that Thurman passed away on Veteran's Day, 2017, a couple of weeks before his 98th birthday.  Sincere thanks to everyone for your support and kind words.

His book Earned in Blood can still be ordered online, and Miner is still available as well. Tamarack may have copies of both left. We have a few autographed copies of Earned--please e-mail gunnyti (a) if you'd like one.

War and Work (2001) is the epic story of a young man’s journey from a poor Appalachian childhood through the most notorious battles of World War II, followed by a thirty-year career in the mining industry. With dozens of historic photos and a down-to-earth, often humorous style the book shows off an uncommon wisdom, intelligence, and humility.
Sample chapters

Combining original essays, historical material, and interviews, Coal Bloom (2003) draws a stark portrait of a generation struggling through the Depression and the Great War to create an entirely new America. 
Winner of the Coal Heritage Research award.

Sample chapters
/ Bibliography

Always Faithful, Always Free 
(2008) draws on all ten decades of the author's life to paint a vivid portrait of the fast-disappearing Greatest Generation, from the struggles of the Depression and World War II through the creation of an entirely new America, set against the personal journey of devotion to his beloved wife of 64 years.
More about Always Faithful, Always Free

Thurman I. Miller 

Thurman I. Miller is a writer, retired coal miner, and veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, enlisting in 1940 and serving in World War II with unit K-3-5 of the First Marine Division on Guadalcanal and Cape Gloucester.  After returning stateside as a Gunny Sergeant he was an instructor at the USMC's Officer Candidate Applicant Battalion at Camp Lejuene.   The Emmy-winning HBO miniseries The Pacific is based in part on the story of his Marine Corps outfit. Born in 1919 and still keeping up a busy schedule of writing and speaking engagements, he has written extensively about his wartime experiences in the South Pacific, growing up in rural Appalachia in the Roaring Twenties and the Depression, and working more than three decades in the coal mining industry.  He formerly served as President of the West Virginia Chapter of the First Marine Division and currently lives in Mt. Hope, WV.   For additional photos and much more, become friends with Thurman on Facebook   And see Thurman and David's webpage for the historic mining community of Helen, WV 
News!    Thurman's latest book is available!

Miner: A Life Underground - $17.95 from Amazon and other bookstores - order online
or order a signed copy from the authors

Miner: A Life Underground - Special Limited Edition Book + DVD available only from the authors
$35 postpaid - Order a copy of the book + DVD

  • Full text (PDF format) of Coal Miner: A Life Underground + three of the authors' previous books
  • High-definition scans of the 4' x 3' underground mine maps as used in the book + viewing software
  • All photos used in Coal Miner: A Life Underground + many more
  • Panoramic high-definition photos of Mullens and Helen WV, 1940’s
  • 90+ minute video interviews with the author
  • Transcript of interviews with the author
  • 1943 Audio recording of President Franklin Roosevelt ordering striking coal miners back to work

Read about Miner in the Washington Times

"In Miner: A Life Underground, Thurman Miller walks us, or should I say, crawls us, through the daily grind of almost forty years of relentlessly chasing after the hard black life source of coal. It keeps the lights on, but can drain a person’s body and psyche until they’re running on fumes. Thurman seeks no pity, yet helps us feel the unforgiving aches from both stooped and on-the-back labor; getting a few days off is only a temporary balm. Machinery breaks down, and more often than not, Thurman is the man who figures out how to do the fix--then does it, as a mechanic/electrician. He has a strong mind, a strong back, and his hands understand how to tame the magic of electricity."
From the Foreword by Steve Flairty


"In this book I wanted to write about what miners actually do--or at least did during my tenure underground, roughly from the mid-1940’s through the 1970’s, which is all I can speak personally about.  How does a person learn to stay safe when literally the mountain above you conspires to compress your weak and contingent human form into the same strata of fossilized dinosaurs and million-year-old carbon we were digging up to sell?  How does a human tame the bare ends of a copper wire that contains enough electricity to power a small town?  And, having gone underneath the mountain every day for years, why do some men prefer it to the safer, cleaner environs of above-ground jobs?  Perhaps miners become addicted to the danger.  For me, the challenge of those mining days were the balm I needed to  heal my troubled mind and begin to clear the constant memory of my days making war.  I wonder still about what kind of redemption a man might find at the bottom of a mine shaft."
From the author's Introduction  

Miner: A Life Underground is a gripping firsthand account of a coal mining career spanning the 1940's through the 1970's, with dozens of historic photos.

Available for order through Amazon and other online booksellers, your local bookstore, or directly from the author at gunnyti (at) or dtmillerlexky (at)

More news:
The Tamarack in Beckley, West Virginia, hosted a book signing for Thurman on Saturday, July 5, to celebrate the paperback release of his latest book Earned in Blood: My Journey from Old-Breed Marine to the Most Dangerous Job in America.

Thurman signed copies of his latest book "Earned in Blood" at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington, KY on November 2.

Thurman was featured in the Sunday, Sept. 1, edition of the Charleston (WV) Gazette--

Thurman's latest book "Earned in Blood: My Journey from Old Breed Marine to the Most Dangerous Job in America" with an introduction by Richard Frank, was released by St. Martin's Press May 21, 2013!  Order a copy

"I was moved to both tears and anger while reading this memoir of a Marine who fought through steamy jungles and across boiling beaches in the Pacific, only to find postwar betrayal in West Virginia's coal country.  It's a dramatic and compelling story, one every American should read and ponder."

Homer Hickam, author of Rocket Boys/October Sky, The Keeper's Son, and many more.

Additional Praise for Earned in Blood:

"When I finished reading this compelling work, my mind reflected not only on what I had just experienced, but also on how it fits both into the long sweep of writing on war and the American literature on World War II... One can now read Thurman Miller’s book and follow K/3/5 from pre-war to Cape Gloucester. Sledge’s book takes up the story for the last two campaigns of the company at Peleliu and Okinawa. And further enriching this unique situation, R.V. Burgin’s Islands of the Damned provides a vivid portrait of K/3/5 from Cape Gloucester to Okinawa. Thus, these memoirs provide an opportunity to see the 1st Marine Division’s four campaigns through the eyes of veterans of a single rifle company. In sum, Earned in Blood provides the reader with a vivid panorama told with directness and honesty of an exceptional personal journey through peace and war--a peace and war both without and within." 
     Richard Frank, historian, author of Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle and other books

"Thurman Miller takes us through his hard but rich Appalachian boyhood, his harrowing experience as a Marine in the battles for Guadalcanal and New Britain, and his lifelong struggle with the aftereffects of all he gave to serve his country.  In addition to recurring bouts of malaria, he suffered flashbacks so powerful that, when working as a coal miner, he saw his dead buddies piled up on the conveyor belt.  Only the sheer strength of his spirit, the support of a loving family, and the reunion with his brother Marines made Mr. Miller’s survival possible.  His heart-searing story reminds us that a grateful nation is never grateful enough."
     George Ella Lyon, author of With a Hammer for My Heart and numerous other books

“In my opinion, T.I. Miller is as fine a Marine as ever put on the uniform. In training and in combat, he was my mentor, my example, and my inspiration.” 
     R.V. Burgin, author of Islands of the Damned: A Marine At War in the Pacific

“At the end of this book I am left with a profound respect for this man, and filled with awe and gratitude. The levels of horror that he--and so many of his friends--endured in the name of service to country, home, and freedom is simply unimaginable.”
     Marcus Brotherton, author of A Company of Heroes and Shifty’s War


Selected Media Calendar (this is a partial listing)

> Thurman was a recent featured author at The Tamarack in Beckley, WV


> Thurman was a featured guest at the Ohio Valley Military Society's Show of Shows in Louisville, Kentucky, along with his old comrade R.V. Burgin (pictured below, featured in The Pacific miniseries and author of Islands of the Damned) and Brad Freeman, Buck Compton, and Earl McClung of the Band of Brothers series and book.


 PIC_0020.JPG (228698 bytes)  with Mr. Burgin


>Thurman was a guest of honor for the Eglin Air Force Base Armed Forces Appreciation Day, along with several soldiers from the Band of Brothers miniseries and several of his Marine Corps buddies featured in The Pacific miniseries. The weekend finished with an Emmy-watching party at the USS Alabama Battleship Park in Mobile. (The Pacific won for best miniseries.)
Flyer for the Event
/ Photos


>Video introduction to Mr. Miller's life (7 minutes - excerpt from 90 minute documentary interview produced by Rare Earth Media.)

>WLEX TV interview

>WOAY TV interview

>WVVA TV interview  

> Audio conversation among  members of K-3-5, First Marine Division, Guadalcanal (75 min.) Part 1 Part 2

Contact info: 


April 2009 - speaking at Mountain State University, Beckley, WV 

April 2009 - Coal Cultural Class speech, Erma Byrd Higher Education Center

April, 2010 - speaking at Mountain State University, Beckley, WV 

May 29, 2010 - Book signing, Tamarack, Beckley, WV

Nov. 9, 2009 - Book signing, Sophia Public Library book 

Aug. 25, 2010 - Armed Forces Appreciation Day and Emmy-watching party, Ft. Walton Beach, FL

Nov. 11, 2010 - Barnes and Noble Veteran's Day panel discussion, Lexington, KY

Feb. 25, 2011 - Show of Shows, Ohio Valley Military Society, Louisville, KY

September, 2011 - Coal Camp historical presentation, as featured on WVPB and National Public Radio

June 16, 2012 - book signing, Lexington Convention Center, Lexington, KY 

June 15-17, 2013 - Niagara Falls, Canada; Erie Canal Discovery Center, Lockport, NY

July 6, 2013 - Book signing at Tamarack, Beckley, WV

Nov. 2, 2013 - Book signing at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington, KY
Nov. 3, 2015 - Release of Miner: A Life Underground

March 27, 2016 - Miller is featured in the Washington Times and other newspapers

The night before we landed on Guadalcanal we used money to light our last cigarettes; it would be of no use to us on the island. I kept this fragment as a souvenir.

My original Australian-made First Marine Division patch, issued in 1943. The Old Breed survives.

All material on this site, including photos, text, and layout, copyright 2017 David T. Miller. All rights reserved.

 >Also visit Thurman & David's site about the historical coal camp of Helen, WV