June 3, 1972 at Avondale Marine in Louisiana the USS Miller DE-1091 was launched, the Miller was named in honor of Cook Third Class Doris Miller. Doris Miller was born in Waco, Texas on Oct. 12, 1919 and joined the navy Sept. 16, 1939. He was a mess attendant on the USS West Virginia BB-48 on Dec. 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Miller, who's battle station had already been destroyed by a Japanese torpedo, helped carry wounded sailors out of harms way until he was ordered to the bridge to help the captain, who had been wounded and later died.
After removing the captain Miller found an unmanned .50 caliber machine gun and opened fire on the attacking Japanese aircraft. Never having fired a .50 and unafraid of the incoming aircraft, Miller continued to fire until he ran out of ammunition. In every Pearl Harbor movie made you have seen the image of a black man firing intensely at the Japanese, that man was Doris Miller.
For his bravery Doris Miller was awarded the Navy Cross by Admiral Nimitz on May 27, 1942. Of Miller, Nimitz said;
"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."
His Citation reads as follows; NAVY CROSS MEDAL
TO: MESS ATTENDANT SECOND CLASS DORIS MILLER UNITED STATES NAVY
for services as set forth in the following:
CITATION: "For distinguished devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and disregard for his own personal safety during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. While at the side of his Captain on the bridge, Miller, despite enemy strafing and bombing and in the face of a serious fire, assisted in moving his Captain, who had been mortally wounded, to a place of greater safety, and later manned and operated a machine gun directed at enemy Japanese attacking aircraft until ordered to leave the bridge."
On Dec. 13, 1941 Doris Miller joined the crew of the USS Indianapolis CA-35 and was with the ship until Nov. 23, 1942. He was then assigned as part of the commissioning crew of the escort carrier Liscome Bay CVE-56 and was still on board on Nov. 24, 1943 when the Japanese submarine I-175 slammed a torpedo into her stern setting off her magazine and sinking the ship. Doris Miller was among the 646 men who were killed that sad day.
The ship that carried his name served in the US Navy until 1991 finally ending it's useful life as a parts ship transferred to Turkey in 1998.
On Jan. 20, 2020 the Navy announced that an aircraft carrier will be named in honor of Doris Miller.
USS Doris Miller CVN-81 will be laid down in 2023 and in commission by 2030.
© 2006 Michael W. Pocock
May 27, 1942: Doris Miller receiving the Navy Cross from Admiral Chester W. Nimitz on board the USS Enterprise CV-6.
Mess Attendant Second Class Doris Miller wearing his Navy Cross.
May 20, 1974: USS Miller DE-1091 off Cape Henry, Virginia.