George Norris “Gus” Mills, Jr., U.S. Army 1994-99

Mr. Mills served in Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment and 1st Cavalry Division and was Stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, and Kuwait.


George Norris Mills, known as Gus, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1994.  He chose the Army to honor his father who was with 101st Airborne from 1965 – 67.  His Basic Training was in Fort Benning, Georgia.  During the first few days he wondered why he ever signed up for it.  Though he was physically prepared, having been a wrestler and on the rowing team in college, he found it a mental shock. 

However, he realized that his father and uncles had prepared him. Growing up in Hoonah, he used to wake up early, in low light conditions, and go hunting with his Dad.   Mr. Mills spent many hours learning to stalk and track deer and to move in the woods quickly and quietly.  He found that this experience translated very well to the Army which had soldiers do many things at night.

He also found that when qualifying for weapons, senior drill instructors, pulled him aside and told him, “Our experience is people form Alaska know how to shoot.”  Mr. Mills proved them right.

He had two deployments, one was to Fort Irwin, National Training Center, the next one was to Kuwait during Operation Southern Watch, which was later rolled into Operation Intrinsic Action 98.  Several times Mr. Mills experienced one-hour recall status to Bosnia, Chad, Bosnia again, then into Kuwait. 

His duties included being a mechanized infantryman, a Dragon Missile gunner (the Dragon is a medium range, wire-guided, line-of-sight anti-tank/assault missile weapon capable of defeating armored vehicles, fortified bunkers, concrete gun emplacements and other hard targets). Other various jobs included weapons specialist, logistics clerk, full clerk, administrative clerk, and a Humvee driver. 

One of his most memorable experiences was working with a training unit in Fort Hood.  There he was cast to take on the role of opposition forces for training cycles.  He took it very seriously and made the exercises as realistic as could so his brothers in arms would be as ready as possible. In this role he was taken seriously, knew his job, and took pride in it.   

His father once told him “Any chance you have to try something new in the Army, volunteer to do it, you’ll never have the chance to do it in the civilian world”.  Mr. Mills took his advice and was glad he did.  One of the things he volunteered to do was learn how to use the explosive C4.  “Even the engineers thought I was crazy”, blowing big holes in the ground, including one that was about 10 feet deep and 20 feet across.

Of his military experience he said,  “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was great but sometimes the busy work just sucked.” 

After service in the Army, Mr. Mills spent 12 years working for the Navy as a Merchant Mariner.  Part of this work involved POW and MIA recovery, including finding two downed airmen from WWII which were brought home so their families could give them proper burials.  In 2014 they found the USS Houston (CL/CA-30) nicknamed the “Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast", a Northampton-class cruiser of the United States Navy that had been sunk in the Battle of Sunda Strait, 1 March 1942. 

Mr. Mills received the Army Achievement and Armed Forces Expeditionary Award Medals.


Gus Mills