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Tornado survivor: Fear wife had died the hardest


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Tornado survivor: Fear wife had died the hardest

By Marsha Walton


Saturday, November 12, 2005; Posted: 9:32 a.m. EST (14:32 GMT)




NEWBURGH, Indiana (CNN) -- Larry Miller watched as work crews bulldozed the parts of his home's walls that were not ripped away by Sunday's tornado. Nearby, family members picked through the few items that were not destroyed or carried away by the twister.


That tornado not only destroyed or damaged more than 600 homes in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky, it killed 22 people.


"I was asleep, in the upstairs bedroom, in the rear of the house. There was this tremendous crash, there was a terrible wind force hitting my body, and then I blanked out," Miller said.


The next thing he knew, he was somewhere in his front yard in Newburgh, Indiana.


"And, need I say, without a stitch of clothes," he laughed.


He yelled for help when he saw some lights coming down the road. A truck soon stopped, and Miller asked the men inside to help him find his wife, who had been in the back of the house.


"The guys dug like blazes and got her out from under that roof," he said. It all happened shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday.


Mary, Miller's wife of nearly six decades, didn't lose consciousness when she was trapped. A sofa protected her when the roof was torn off the house.


One of the Good Samaritans in the pickup truck gave Larry Miller a T-shirt to put on and drove the couple to a hospital where they were treated for cuts and bruises and released.


Sunday morning's tornado is not the first natural disaster that Larry Miller has come through fairly unscathed.


"During World War II, I was on a ship in the South Pacific. It was wrecked in a typhoon, it drove us right up on the coral. It wrecked the ship and all 30 of us survived," he said. Miller was 18 years old at the time, working as the chief cook on the boat.


Which experience was worse?


"This was much worse, because I had my wife on my mind all the time. We were in two different rooms and I had no idea what -- I knew she was in there but I didn't know if she was alive or not. That was the hardest few minutes," he said, choking up.


As his daughter and granddaughter retrieved a pair of jeans, and some photographs from the rubble, Miller said he would be staying with family members for the foreseeable future. He says he plans to rebuild in the city, but probably not on the same site as his destroyed home.


Even with some struggles ahead, Miller says he's just glad both he and Mary made it out with only minor injuries. The possessions, he says, are not that important.


"I have just sheer gratitude that we're alive. We've been married almost 59 years, and as long as you have each other, why, who cares?



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