President Ford

William G. Milliken

William G. Milliken

Let it be known that it is with great respect and admiration that we honor Staff Sergeant William G. Milliken, U.S. Army Air Corps, upon his induction into the Michigan Military and Veterans Hall of Honor. Milliken served a distinguished military career, including service during World War II. Indeed, his contribution to his country is a feat to which we all should aspire.


William G. Milliken, of Traverse City, Michigan was born there on Sunday, March 26, 1922. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve Corps in 1942 and volunteered for active duty with the Army Air Corps in 1943. During World War II Bill flew 50 combat missions during World War II as a waist-gunner on Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bombers and survived two crash landings. Milliken was awarded the Purple Heart by the President of the United States for wounds received in action over Vienna, Austria. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in action. Bill was further honored by the Army with three Air Medals, Army Good Conduct Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with eight battle stars and the WWII Victory Medal. Staff Sergeant Milliken was discharged on Saturday, September 29, 1945. He earned a BA degree in history and public affairs from Yale University in 1946.


Bill was president of the family owned J.W. Milliken Department Store, when appointed to the Michigan Waterways Commission in 1947. In 1960, Milliken was elected a state senator from the 27th District (1961-1964). He was elected the 54th Lieutenant Governor of Michigan (1965-1969) in 1964, Bill became the 44th Governor of Michigan (1969-1983) on Wednesday, January 22, 1969 when Governor George Romney resigned to serve in President Richard Nixon's cabinet. Milliken was subsequently elected to full four-year terms in 1970, 1974 and 1978. He led the formation of the “Council of Great Lakes Governors” in 1982. Bill’s 14 years as Governor is the longest in state history. Milliken was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Yale University in 1976. Dave Dempsey published his biography “William G. Milliken: Michigan's Passionate Moderate” in 2006. The state park “William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor” on the Detroit waterfront was named in his honor. The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island has a “Milliken Suite.” His father James T. Milliken (1941-1950) and grand-father James W. Milliken (1898-1900) were State Senators as well, with all three representing the 27th district. Bill died at his home on Friday, October 18, 2019 at the age of 97.

Indeed, the patriotic contributions of Staff Sergeant Milliken must be recognized, as in all who have served the United States of America in this capacity. The personal sacrifice so selflessly offered by these brave men and women for the preservation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness must never be forgotten. Bill Milliken embraced the essence of American heroism and should be recognized as a role model by all individuals.

In special tribute, therefore, we honor Staff Sergeant Milliken for his exemplary service to the United States of America, and to commemorate his induction into the Michigan Military and Veterans Hall of Honor.