Doris Miller

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Image:Doris Miller.jpg
U.S. Navy Cook Third Class Doris Miller, Navy Cross for actions during the attack on Pearl Harbor (7 December 1941).

Doris "Dorie" Miller (October 12, 1919November 24, 1943) was an African American cook in the United States Navy and a hero during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He was the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross, the Navy's second highest honor.

[edit] Biography

Born in Waco, Texas, Miller enlisted in the Navy in 1939, and was made a mess attendant. At the time African Americans were prohibited from serving in combat capacities aboard ships.

Originally assigned to USS Pyro, in January 1940 he transferred to USS West Virginia (BB-48), where he became the ship's heavyweight boxing champ. He gradually rose through the ranks to the level of Cook, Third Class. He served briefly on Nevada (BB-36) in July 1940, then was transferred back to the West Virginia, where he was serving in December 1941, at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Miller was collecting laundry as the attack started and ran to his battle station. Upon finding his battle station unusable, he was ordered to help carry the wounded off the deck. When Captain Mervyn Bennion was injured by machine gun fire, Miller helped move him to a place of relative safety. Finding a loaded but unattended Browning .50 caliber anti-aircraft gun, Miller took control of it and began firing at the attacking Japanese planes, even though he had no prior training in operating the weapon; he eventually ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship. A week later, he was assigned to the Indianapolis (CA-35) and would not return to the U.S. until late in 1943.

Although his heroism was initially ignored, the African American press picked up on the story of the black hero of Pearl Harbor and pressured the Navy to recognize Miller.

Image:Nimitz and miller.jpg
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz pins Navy Cross on Doris Miller, at ceremony on board warship in Pearl Harbor, 27 May 1942

Finally, on May 27, 1942, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz personally awarded Miller the Navy Cross aboard Enterprise (CV-6). In his address, Nimitz remarked that "This marks the first time in this conflict that such high tribute has been made in the Pacific Fleet to a member of his race and I'm sure the future will see others similarily honored for brave acts." Only one month earlier, on April 7, 1942, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox had issued a directive that African Americans were to be enlisted in general service in the Navy, though that branch of the military continued to remain segregated.

In the spring of 1943, Miller was assigned to Liscome Bay (CVE-56) and was still serving as a messman there when the carrier was sunk in the Gilbert Islands during Operation Galvanic on November 24, 1943. His body was never found, and one year later, on November 25, 1944, Miller was declared dead.

In addition to the Navy Cross, Miller received the Purple Heart, the American Defense Service Medal with the Fleet Clasp, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

On 30 June, 1973, the Knox-class frigate USS Miller (FF-1091) was named for Doris Miller. Simultaneously, Miller (DD-535) was renamed James Miller to distinguish Doris Miller from Quartermaster James Miller, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for courageous conduct during the American Civil War.

Cuba Gooding Jr. portrayed Miller in the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor.

On October 11 1991, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority dedicated a bronze commemorative plaque of Miller at the Miller Family Park located on the U.S. Naval Base, Pearl Harbor.

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[edit] External links

Image:Above and beyond poster.jpg
Poster featuring Doris Miller.

es:Doris Miller zh:多里斯·米勒

Doris Miller

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