Doris 'Dorie' Miller: Pearl Harbor Hero


Writer Vicky Miller, niece of Pearl Harbor hero Doris "Dorie" Miller, is reminding the world about her uncle's heroic acts as we pause to remember the Pearl Harbor attack.

According to the Navy History & Heritage website:

Miller was assigned to the ammunition ship USS Pyro (AE-1) where he served as a Mess Attendant, and on January 2, 1940 was transferred to USS West Virginia (BB-48), where he became the ship's heavyweight boxing champion. In July of that year he had temporary duty aboard USS Nevada (BB-36) at Secondary Battery Gunnery School. He returned to West Virginia and on August 3, and was serving in that battleship when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Miller had arisen at 6 a.m., and was collecting laundry when the alarm for general quarters sounded. He headed for his battle station, the antiaircraft battery magazine amidship, only to discover that torpedo damage had wrecked it, so he went on deck. Because of his physical prowess, he was assigned to carry wounded fellow Sailors to places of greater safety. Then an officer ordered him to the bridge to aid the mortally wounded Captain of the ship. He subsequently manned a 50 caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship.


His niece writes:

" … he had no idea that his heroic actions aboard the West Virginia on that day at Pearl Harbor, would bring major changes to the United States Navy; changes that opened doors for advancement and higher opportunities for Blacks. Miller served aboard USS Indianapolis from December 1941 to May 1943. He was then assigned to the escort carrier Liscome Bay and was lost with that ship when it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on November 24, 1943."

Miller was commended by the Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox on April 1, 1942, and on May 27, 1942, he received the Navy Cross, which Fleet Admiral (then Admiral) Chester W. Nimitz, the commander in chief of Pacific Fleet, personally presented to Miller on board aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) for his extraordinary courage in battle. Speaking of Miller, Nimitz remarked:

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 that the future will see others similarly honored for brave acts.

Vicky writes that he did not receive the Medal of Honor because of discrimination. However, the naval website says that based on his actions, Miller was entitled to the Purple Heart Medal; the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal, all of which he was awarded.

Commissioned on June 30, 1973, the USS Miller (FF-1091), a Knox-class frigate, was named in honor of Doris "Dorie" Miller. On Oct. 11, 1991, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. dedicated a bronze commemorative plaque of Miller at the Miller Family Park, located on the U.S. Naval Base, Pearl Harbor.


As we remember the Pearl Harbor attacks, Doris "Dorie" Miller should be in our hearts and minds.

Read more at African-American News and Naval History & Heritage.