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Mills, George H., 1895-1975  Search this
United States. Navy. Naval Airship Program  Search this
Mills, George H., 1895-1975  Search this
13.39 Cubic feet (24 legal document boxes; 7 flatboxes)
14.95 Linear feet
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
circa 1920s-1950s
bulk 1930-1949
The George Henry Mills Collection was donated to the National Air and Space Museum in 1994 by Mills' daughter, Mrs. Georgia Mills Head.
Scope and Contents:
The George Henry Mills Collection consists of 14.59 cubic feet (14.47 linear feet) of material collected from his naval career, 1918-1948. A large part of the collection is made up of records of Mills' service during World War II as the commander of the Atlantic Fleet's airship formations. The collection also includes records of his service as an official Navy observer aboard the German rigid airships Graf Zeppelin and Hindenburg. Of particular interest are records of the period before and immediately after the entry of the United States into World War II: the pre-war build-up of the Navy's LTA program, the "Neutrality Patrols" as the Navy fought an undeclared war against Germany, and of the harrowing early days of the Battle of the North Atlantic as German U-boats roamed the eastern coast of the United States. Mills maintained an extensive correspondence with many of the leading figures of LTA: Charles E. Rosendahl, Garland Fulton, and Scott E. Peck --their letters provide a unique picture of the Navy LTA program during its most active and successful period. The collection also includes numerous technical reports on aspects of LTA flight, training material, photographs, clippings and articles on LTA. Note: The digital images in this finding aid were repurposed from scans made by an outside contractor for a commercial product and may show irregular cropping and orientation in addition to color variations resulting from damage to and deterioration of the original objects.
Arrangement note:
The George H. Mills Collection is arranged in the following series: Series I: Naval career of George H. Mills Series II: Correspondence Series III: General LTA Papers Series IV: General Naval Papers Series V: Publications, Articles, Clippings Series VI: Lectures, Speeches, Papers Series VII: Miscellaneous Papers Series VIII: Photographs Series IX: Scrapbooks; Oversized Material
Biographical/Historical note:
George Henry Mills (1895-1975), Naval officer and airship aviator, was a member of the U.S. Navy's inner circle of advocates of lighter than air (LTA) flight. Mills was born on August 5, 1895 in Rutherfordton, North Carolina, the son of John Craton Mills and Nora Poole Mills. He attended Bingham Military School in Asheville, North Carolina, and entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1914. Mills graduated from the Academy in June, 1918 and served in various fleet and shore assignments (a chronology of Mills' naval service will be found in the notes to Series I on page 2). He married Leonore Wickersham of Corning, NY in 1923; their daughter, Georgia Lee Mills, was born in 1928. Mills was assigned to LTA training at Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey in 1931. He completed his training in 1932 and served in the Navy's LTA fleet through the 1930's. Mills flew as an observer on board the Graf Zeppelin in 1934 and on the Hindenburg in 1936. In 1935, Mills survived the crash of the USS Macon off the California coast. Mills returned to Lakehurst, serving there in various assignments; he was made commanding officer of NAS Lakehurst in January, 1940. At Lakehurst, Mills organized blimp patrols as part of the Navy's Neutrality Patrol and helped coordinate the Navy's rapid buildup of the LTA program. When Airship Patrol Group One was formed in January 1942, Mills was named commanding officer; in December 1942 he commanded Airship Wing Thirty. In July 1943, Mills was assigned as the commander of Fleet Airships, Atlantic - the chief of the Navy's LTA forces in the Atlantic Theater. George Mills was promoted to the rank of Commodore in November 1943. In 1945, Mills returned to sea as the captain of the troopship USS Hermitage. Before retirement from the Navy in 1949, Mills served as the chief of the Naval Airship Training and Experimentation Command (CNATE) at NAS Lakehurst. After leaving the Navy, Mills settled in North Carolina and worked for the Equitable Life Insurance Company, and later for the National Securities and Research Corporation. Mills served one term in the North Carolina State Legislature from 1950 to 1952. George H. Mills died on October 24, 1975, the same day as his longtime LTA colleague and friend, Garland Fulton, whose papers are also part of the collections of the National Air and Space Archives. They were buried on the same day in Arlington National Cemetery.
Chronology of George H. Mills' Naval Service 1914 -- June 14 - Entered U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland 1918 -- June 6 - Graduated from the Academy, Class of 1919; commissioned Ensign, USN September 21 - Service aboard USS New Mexico. Promoted to Lieutenant (JG)(Temporary) 1920 -- June 1 - Promotion to Lieutenant (JG) 1922 -- First LTA flight as gunnery spotter on captive balloon on USS New Mexico June 3 - Promotion to Lieutenant 1923 -- September 25 - Assigned as personal aide to RADM George W. Williams, Commandant, Sixth Naval District, Charleston, SC June 20 - Assigned as divisions communication officer on staff of VADM Henry A. Wiley, Battleship Division, Battle Fleet 1929 -- June 5 -Assistant gunnery officer and senior watch officer, USS Pensacola 1924 -- August 5 - Served as aide and flag secretary to RADM Williams as Commander Destroyer Squadrons, Scouting Fleet. Served on USS Concord, USS Dobbin, USS Whitney 1925 -- September - Continued as aide when RADM Williams was relieved by RADM Noble E. Irwin 1931 -- June 1 - Ordered to NAS Lakehurst for LTA instruction. Training flights on free and captive balloons and on airships Los Angeles (ZR-3), Akron (ZRS-4), J-3, J-4, K-1 and ZMC-2 1932 -- June 16 - Finished LTA training; designated naval aviator, lighter-than-air, # 3925 1927 -- June 30 - Officer-in-charge, naval recruiting for North and South Carolina, Raleigh, North Carolina 1933 -- September 1 - Promotion to Lieutenant Commander 1934 -- May 14 - Ordered on temporary duty as naval observer on the Graf Zeppelin. Made three round trips aboard the Graf Zeppelin between Friedrichshafen and cities in South America August 9 - Ordered to NAS Lakehurst as Operations Officer October 14 - Ordered to NAS Sunnyvale (later NAS Moffett Field) as tactical officer, pilot and navigational watch on USS Macon (ZRS-4) 1935 -- February 12 - USS Macon crashes off Point Sur, California. Mills is rescued after three hours in the water April 15 - Ordered to NAS Lakehurst as operations and mooring officer 1936 -- November 4 - Ordered to Newport News for fitting out USS Yorktown August - Naval observer aboard Hindenburg on round trip flights between Lakehurst and Frankfort, Germany 1937 -- September 30 – Assigned as gunnery officer, USS Yorktown September 12 – October 2 - Training in chemical warfare at Gas Warfare School, Edgewood Arsenal, MD 1939 -- July 1 - Promotion to Commander June – Assigned as executive officer, NAS Lakehurst 1940 -- January 15 - Appointed commanding officer, NAS Lakehurst 1941 -- July - Temporary duty, Airship Board, Washington 1942 -- December 1 - Appointed Commander, Fleet Airship Wing Thirty June 17 - Promotion to Captain January 2 - Appointed Commander, Airship Patrol Group One 1943 -- November 5 - Promotion to Commodore July 1 - Appointed Commander, Fleet Airships, Atlantic 1945 -- July 23 - Awarded Legion of Merit July 10 - Appointed captain, USS Hermitage (AP-54). Reverts to rank of captain 1946 -- August 5 - Appointed commander, NAS Moffett Field 1947 -- September 26 - Appointed chief, Naval Airship Training and Experimentation Command (CNATE) 1949 -- June 30 - Retirement from U.S. Navy Abbreviations ADM -- Admiral ASW -- Anti-submarine warfare ATC -- Air Transport Command BuAer -- Bureau of Aeronautics (US Navy) CDR -- Commander CNATE -- Naval Airship Training and Experimentation Command Cong -- Congress GHM -- George Henry Mills LTA -- Lighter than air flight MAD -- Magnetic anomaly detector (often found as magnetic airborne detector) NACA -- National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics NAS -- Naval Air Station NATS -- Naval Air Transport Service ND -- No date RADM -- Rear admiral RN -- Royal Navy Sess -- Session VADM -- Vice Admiral WPA -- Works Project Authority ZNP -- Patrol airship ZP -- Airship squadron
Georgia M. Head, Gift, 1994, 1994-0022, NASM
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George Henry Mills Collection, Acc. 1994-0022, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
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George Henry Mills Collection
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