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"Mad Piper" Bill Millin dies age 88; Inspired Many

When I heard that Bill Millin, a Scottish bagpiper who played morale-pumping tunes for his fellow commandos from the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, died Aug. 17 age 88, I felt compelled to write his obituary.

You see, I love bagpipes. A lot.

So much, in fact, that during college, my good buddy, bagpiper Rob Deane, and I would tour around our Virginia Tech campus playing some Scottish tunes. ON A BICYCLE!

Some, like the commandos who saw the "mad piper" stomp around the Normandy beaches exposed and unarmed, called us crazy.

But we didn't care. We took a wild delight in overhearing conversations in the dining hall about our previous "bikepiping" runs.

("Did you all, like, see those crazy guys playing the bagpipes on the bicycle!?" "Like, ohmigod, they were awesome!")

Our main goal was to provide our fellow students with something to smile about and above all, have a little fun.

And for the record, Mr. Letterman and Mr. Leno, we're definitely available for booking.

By T. Rees Shapiro  |  August 23, 2010; 10:49 AM ET
Categories:  T. Rees Shapiro , World War II  | Tags: Bikepiping, Bill Millin, D-Day, World War II  
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My father was on Omaha beach but there were no pipers there. When he saw "The Longest Day" his favorite scene was Sean Connery stuffing his ears with cotton when the piper came up the beach - strange since Sean Connery is a fervent Scottish nationalist. Despite my father's dislike of the instrument I began learning after seeing the Black Watch at Madison Square Garden in 1963 and now play with a Celtic folk band called Moch Pryderi. Good to see that Bill Millen was remembered.

Posted by: roscym1 | August 24, 2010 7:12 AM | Report abuse

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