Ross Milton was born on December 29, 1915, at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on July 1, 1934, serving until June 28, 1935. Milton entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1936, graduating with a commission as a 2d Lt in the Army Air Corps on June 11, 1940. Lt Milton next completed flight training and was awarded his pilot wings at Kelly Field, Texas, in March 1941, and then completed B-24 Liberator transition training before serving at Langley Field, Virginia. Col Milton then transitioned to the B-17 Flying Fortress, serving at Tacoma, Washington, before deploying to England in April 1943, where he served as operations officer of the 351st Bomb Group from April to June 1943. His next assignment was as deputy commander of the 91st Bomb Group in England from June 1943 to October 1944, followed by service as commander of the 384th Bomb Group in England from November 1944 to June 1945. After returning to the U.S., Col Milton served on the staff of Air Transport Command until deploying to Germany from July 1948 to June 1949, where he served as chief of staff for the Combined Airlift Task Force, the command that directed operations for the Berlin Airlift. His next assignment was as Deputy Director of Operations and then Director of Operations with Headquarters Military Air Transport Service at the Pentagon from October 1949 to August 1952, followed by Air War College from August 1952 to June 1953. Gen Milton served on the staff of Headquarters U.S. Air Force at the Pentagon from July 1953 to August 1958, and then served as Commander of the 41st Air Division at Johnson AB, Japan, from August 1958 to June 1961. He next served as Commander of 13th Air Force at Clark AB in the Philippines from June 1961 to July 1963, followed by service as Deputy Chief of Staff of Plans and Operations for U.S. Pacific Command at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, from August 1963 to August 1965. His next assignment was as Chief of Staff of Tactical Air Command at Langley AFB, Virginia, from August 1965 to February 1967, and then as Inspector General of the Air Force from February to July 1967. After serving as Comptroller of the Air Force from August 1967 to March 1969, Gen Milton served as Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, from March 1969 to July 1971. His final assignment was as U.S. Representative to the NATO Military Committee from August 1971 until his retirement from the Air Force on August 1, 1974. Ross Milton died on August 24, 2010, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
His Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism in action while serving as Air Commander of a Combat Wing of B-17 aircraft on a bombing mission over Germany, 11 January 1944. Although he was painfully wounded by cannon fire from a determined enemy's interception more than an hour before arriving at the target, Colonel Milton, refusing aid, directed his Combat Wing to the objective and continued to perform the duties of co-pilot of the badly damaged airplane. Upon the withdrawal he remained at his post of duty and led the large formation of aircraft to diversion airdromes, as necessitated by unforeseen adverse weather. He consented to relinquish his post only when all the planes of the formation had landed. The courage and devotion to duty displayed by Colonel Milton on this occasion reflect the highest credit upon himself and the Military Forces of the United States.