He Led a Life of Danger:  Doyle Miller

By Sara Jane Richter

This article might start with a couple of good analogies:  comparing Mr. Miller to popular British agent OO7 or perhaps to the “Secret Agent Man” TV series hero.  However, 007 and Secret Agent man appear in the works of British fiction while Mr. Miller is a real-life American hero who worked for our federal government, and we all know that real life does serve as the template for fiction.

First and foremost, Doyle Miller is an Okie, a proud Okie.  Born in Elk City and raised in Fairview, Miller is no stranger to hard work and book learning.  Securing a basketball scholarship to Oklahoma Christian University, he later attended OU Law School.  Then, he entered the US Army, earned an OCS commission, served at Ft. Knox in Tennessee and then in Mannheim, Germany, beginning in 1969 as a member of the 5/68th/3rd Brigade/8th Infantry.  He met his future wife Dorothy (Dot), a teacher from Iowa, in Germany.

Upon completion of his military service, he completed law school, passed the BAR exam, and worked as the Assistant District Attorney in Garfield County.  In the meantime, he secured his private pilot license.  Miller possessed an innate ability of marksmanship and held a place on the All-Army Reserve High-Powered Rifle Team.  He then decided to take the civil service examination and passed.  

He entered the Secret Service in 1971 and trained in Washington, D.C.  His primary responsibility involved counterfeit currency resulting in his attachment to the Treasury Department.  Eventually, his duty included protecting the President of the US, and he served in that capacity in the US and abroad for presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan.  For example, he had the task of providing security in Vienna, Austria, for President Carter at the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) in 1979.  He also became Reagan’s designated “cowboy rider”; when the President wished to ride horses on his California ranch, Miller saddled up alongside him.  He also shared time with President Reagan in his wood shop amid the sawdust and lathe.

Miller also had the responsibility of providing protective services to visiting international dignitaries visiting the US, such as Jordan’s King Hussein and his family who really seemed to enjoy eating pizza.  In addition, he did the groundwork for completing security measures in such diverse exotic locations as Lagos, Nigeria, and Lima, Peru.  As his career continued, he also took specialized training in subjects as diverse as driving the presidential limousine, delivering babies, and fighting fires.  

Many of the stories that he shared are not for publication, but his daughter encourages him to write his autobiography—when his pledge of secrecy has ended.  He has many tales to tell about his years in the Secret Service.  For example, once, when President Carter flew from Camp David to Washington, DC, one of the plane’s engines stopped.  Thankfully, the other engine started up just in the nick of time to keep the plane in the air, but not before passengers, including Miller, said quick prayers and held their collective breath.  

He came to know each President he served rather well and noted their different personalities, realizing that he had to be familiar with each man in order to provide top-notch protection services for them.  Miller indicated that Ford and Reagan were amiable, talkative men while Nixon and Carter were reserved and quiet.

Miller retired from the Secret Service after nine years when he was transferred to New York City.  He didn’t wish to raise his two sons and daughter in the city, so he opted to retire and return to Oklahoma to make a home.  About his illustrious career, he said that he “had a good time and a good wife,” and that, that was about all any one man could do and be proud of.  

Once back on his home soil of central Oklahoma, he worked as the Assistant District Attorney for Kingfisher County.  After his retirement from that office, he moved to a farm west of Hennessey where he lives with his wife.  Together, they enjoy the company of their family, especially playing active roles in the lives of their busy grandchildren.

Doyle Miller can regale any listener with a wealth of fascinating stories filled with famous names, distant locations, important dates, and world events.  He was in the middle of it all for nearly a decade, facing changing circumstances with his hand near his service weapons at all times.  Mr. Miller lived a life of danger, serving his nation to keep it safe from intrigue and injury.  He is a real-life hero who deserves respect.  If you’re lucky enough to be in his company, be ready to listen and learn about what a real government agent does.  You won’t be disappointed.