OBITUARY

Milton L. Staley

May 31, 1919January 19, 2019

World War II veteran Milton Leroy “Milt” Staley was not your typical international rock star. The combat decorated, twice-wounded Redding resident died peacefully at his home on Jan. 19, five months short of his 100th birthday. But, he left a large, international legion of friends — who called him their “rock star” — after several return visits to WWII battlefields and sites from Normandy, France and Belgium to the Southwest Pacific island of Espirito Santo. In 1968, he and his family moved from West Covina in Southern California to Shasta County, where he became a successful business owner. He also gave back generously to fellow veterans as a founding member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart’s Shasta chapter. On a more personal level, he befriended younger veterans coping with post-service issues. Milt’s overseas visits were his avenue to numerous new friendships and resulted in a huge following on social media such as Facebook. On his first return to Normandy in 2011, Milt met Hervé Chalmeton of St. Chely-d’Apcher in southern France. “(Milt) became a member of our family... Always smiling and positive, he will stay in our hearts forever.” Another of his new friends is the grand daughter of Gen. George Patton, in whose Third Army Milt marched and fought from Utah Beach in France to Czechoslovakia by war’s end. During his D-Day 70th anniversary visit, Milt spent more than two hours signing autographs and shaking hands with admirers But, he never sought fame. “He was a quiet, unassuming man who always said, ‘I was just doing my job’,”said one of his many friends. Milt was very reluctant to discuss his Silver Star, the nation’s third highest honor for combat gallantry; two Bronze Stars; turning down a battlefield commission; or how he received two Purple Heart medals — and probably merited a third. On one of his last post-war visits Milt was presented the French Legion of Honor, which recognizes distinguished French or allied military service. Milt was one of relatively few Americans to fight in both major theaters of WWII. In November 1942, Milt was on the SS President Coolidge troopship as part of Army reinforcements for US Marines on Guadalcanal. He sat directly over the spot where a US Navy mine fatally damaged the Coolidge as she entered harbor at Espirito Santo, America’s most advanced Pacific support base. On Santo, he contracted malaria and was eventually transferred to the D-Day Utah Beach-bound 90th Division (the Texas and Oklahoma National Guard “Tough ‘Ombres”). Santo drew him back in 2008 as the last survivor to visit the Coolidge wreck site. Milt’s video reminiscences now are a key exhibit at Santo’s new South Pacific WWII Museum. Milt believed hard times made people tougher. Growing up in the small, Great Depression Era northern Minnesota town of Penguilly, he and his father, Harvey Addison, and three brothers worked at any jobs that put food on the table. His mother died giving birth to a sister he never knew — the infant was stolen from the hospital and could never be found. As teenagers, Milt and brothers Edward, Vernon and James (all deceased) sometimes hitchhiked or jumped on a California-bound freight train during the summer to earn money picking fruit. After the war he returned to Minnesota and married his high school sweetheart, Doris (“Dorie”), who died in 1998 at age 77 after nearly 53 years of marriage. In 1950 Southern California beckoned and the family relocated to West Covina with son Jim (who died in 2015 after a lengthy illness). When the Staley family moved to Shasta County, Milt and Dorie first opened a laundromat. Later, they bought the Continental Meat Co., a thriving Northern California restaurant and commercial distributor, which they operated for eight years. After retiring, they travelled the US in an RV for more than a year. Milton is survived by three grandchildren: Jimmy Staley, Redding; Kasey Williams, Redding; and Brandi Breaux, Beaumont, TX; and 10 great grandchildren.

Services

  • Graveside Service Wednesday, February 6, 2019
  • Celebration of Life Wednesday, February 6, 2019
REMEMBERING

Milton L. Staley

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Cindy CHALMETON

February 6, 2019

Everything started on a sunny day of June 2011 in Normandy. I didn't know before that this day would change the rest of my life. I saw you walking down to the street with your purple heart jacket. I just wanted to thank you for everything you did for our freedom and our country. You were so humble and still looked surprised when people wanted to thank you. You used to answer that you were not a hero, that your comrades in arms were...but I can tell you that you were a true hero.
We took a picture together and you gave me your mail address... We sent each other a few letters and then we started talking on Facebook. Everyday day, when I was coming home from University, it was our rendez-vous. We were talking and laughing about everything for hours. You were my GP, my confident, for the good things but also for some bad moments that you were the only one to know about... I went through these hard moments thanks to you, thanks to your advices and thanks to your love... I will never thank you enough for that. I saw you so proud when I graduated and when I became a teacher. There are so many wonderful moments we shared together, in Normandy, in Redding, when you came to my home and to my school in Southern France, and lately in San Antonio... Memories I will cherish forever.
I still can see your smile, hear your laugh and hear the last sentence you told me... "I love you GD". Today, it breaks my heart to not be here with you to tell you goodbye, but I know that the people we love are never far away, so I am sure you're now a beautiful angel taking care of me and of everybody here. Thank you for everything you did for me and I love you.

Paul Vallee

February 1, 2019

RIP Mr Staley, you are now among your friends and family as well as my Uncle Captain Elwood Euart who died that fateful day in 1942 when the Coolidge sank. Your generation is a shining example of true heroes. I'd like to pass along our condolences to the Staley family from all of the Euart cousins and their extended families. Thank you for your service, you will not be forgotten!!

Mayumi Green

January 31, 2019

I was very fortunate to met you and your nephew Richard in 2008 when you returned to visit Espiritu Santo Island of Vanuatu, where you survived the sinking of the SS President Coolidge on the 26th October 1942, and stayed on the island for 6 months waiting and preparing to fight in Solomon Island. I volunteered to followed you and took videos of your memories, you showed me where the US Army Headquarter was, where you use to swim with other boys, interviewed you with late Allan Power the legend of the Coolidge. Richard asked me to lay your Dog Tag on the Coolidge, under the water, all the diving operators on Santo got together to shoot photo and video of your Dog Tag on the bow gun where you stood when the Coolidge was hit the mine. Since then, we chat often through the Facebook, you were the oldest person to chat with me :)
I miss you dearly Milton. Sad to think that I can not chat you again... but your friendship and your warmest smile will stay in my heart for the rest of my life. Thank you Milton.

Al Murley

January 31, 2019

We’ve had the honor of knowing Milt since 2011 after he reached out to us searching for information about my dad. Milt “patched up” my seriously wounded father on 10 Jan 1945 during The Battle of the Bulge. We are quite literally here because of Milt.
Over the years we enjoyed several wonderful visits. One particularly special visit was between our son Andy and Milt. Milt didn’t want to share the bad times, but a few good times they had in the midst of the horror. One particular story involved a lieutenant opening a barrel of ale with a revolver... The stories gave Andy precious insight about his grandfather. Our daughter Meri had a trip of a life time to France where she got to be with Milt and be welcomed with open arms(and kisses on the cheek) in Mayenne.
We have been so blessed to know him.

Shane Estes

January 31, 2019

I had the honor to meet and spend time with Milt , a wonderful man , Here he is Pictured ,in France, with his buddy, my father in-law Raymond , I have never known two greater men .

Ron Ammons

January 31, 2019

It was an honor and a pleasure to meet Milt, who served with my dad in different regiments of the 90th Infantry Division during WWII. These men were able to survive some of the worst horrors that man can inflict upon himself, and yet retain the highest level of warmth and humanity. (Milt and I are flanked by two residents of Montsurs, France in 2014 along the "Street of Liberation.")

Hazel Muller

January 31, 2019

RIP Milton. Thank you for your service to our country. Now you have a beautiful, new life in Heaven.

HERVE CHALMETON

January 31, 2019

The world has lost a Hero , but heaven has gained an Angel.
As long as I live, you will live
As long as I live, you will be remembered
As long as I live you will be loved.
Your '' Blood Brother '' from France .
Hervé

Dave Oldani

January 24, 2019

Tough Ombre, May you rest in eternal peace and may your devotion and service to the greatest Nation on the face of the earth be ever remembered. You are a true son of democracy.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY