Not much people know about the name Doris “Dorie” Miller when you ask them. However he was listed as one of the bravest man doing the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross award, and it was the third highest honor awarded by the US Navy at the time.
Who is Doris Miller?
Miller was born October 12, 1919 in Waco, Texas to Henrietta and Connery Miller. Being the third of four sons, he grows up in a strong loving household. As a child he often helps around the house, cooking meals and doing laundry, as well as working the fields. He went to high school at Waco’s A.J. Moore High School. There he was a good student and a fullback on the football team, they called him the “Raging Bull” because of his size which was five foot nine and was over two hundred Ibs. He worked on his father farm until the age nineteen. He then when to Dallas to enlist in the US Navy as Mess Attendant, Third Class in September 1939, in which was the only military job classification officially open to African Americans during the time. He had enlisted to travel, and earn money for his family. Miller was trained at the Naval Training Station in Norfolk, Virginia. He was later assigned to the ammunition ship USS Pyro where he served as a Mess Attendant. Then later he was transferred to the USS West Virginia. There he became the ship’s heavyweight boxing champion.
Why is Doris Miller Famous?
Doris Miller is famous cause of is braver during the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was a cook on board of a ship during the attack on Pearl Harbor. When the attack began he help carry wounded sailors to safer sections of the ship and help carried the ship’s wounded captain, Mervyn Bennion, off the bridge. He then manned a 50-caliber anti-aircraft machine gun on deck of the ship. He had never been trained to fire the gun at the time. However it was said he shot down as many as six planes before being ordered to abandon ship. A week after Pearl Harbor he was transferred to the USS Enterprise where Commander in Chief Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, pinned the Navy’s highest award for valor, the Navy Cross on is chest at the age 22. He was the first African American to receive this award.
What Happen During the Attack?
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941 Miller was on deck collecting laundry at 7:55 a.m. Most of the other ship crew were either sleeping or spending the weekend ashore. On Sunday morning no one had expected the attacks. When the alarm for the general quarters sounded, Miller ran to his battle station but a torpedo had damage it already. He then was knocked down by an explosions but scrambled back to his feet to see many sailors was wounded by the explosions. He then tries to carry out the wounded sailors to a safer part of the boat. There where he saw the wounded captain and then carried him off the bridge. He then manned a 50-caliber anti-aircraft machine gun on the deck and began to shot down the Japanese aircraft.
How Did Miller Die?
Miller was aboard the Liscome Bay were they was called on to assist the flight crews who were preparing the planes for launching at dawn. There when no warning a Japanese submarine shot a torpedo and struck the carrier. The entire interior of the ship burst into flames. Within minutes the ship sank, taking down the captain, 53 other officers, and 591 crewmen. Only 272 men were rescued a Dorie Miller was not among them.
Dorie Miller’s parents were later notified that their son was missing in action. The following year, on November 25, 1944, he and the other missing crew member were officially presumed dead. The carrier he was on received one battle star for its service in WW II.
Where Are Miller’s Memorials?
Dorie Miller has lots of memorial like the USS Miller a Knox- class frigate was commissioned in his honor. Also the Doris Miller Foundation was founded to give an annual award to the individual or group considered outstanding in the field of race relations. There is a lot more like the Doris Miller Drive, Doris Miller Center, Dorie Miller Houses, Dorie Miller Housing Project, the Dorie and Doris Miller Elementary School, the Doris Miller YMCA, The Doris Miller Park, The Doris Miller Community Center, and must more.
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Vol. IV. Navy Department, 1969.
Richardson, Ben. Great American Negroes, Crowell, 1956.
“Mess Attendant Doris Miller.htm.” Medal of Honor.com
USS West Virginia Action Report mentioning Miller
Extracts from USS West Virginia’s 11 December 1941 Action Report, Relating to Doris Miller during the Pearl Harbor Attack
African American in the U.S. Navy: A Bibliography
The Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941
National Archives: War in the Pacific: Mess Attendant First Class Doris Miller