This week marks the 80th anniversary of the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor. What President Franklin D. Roosevelt described as “a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
This was a day that shook the United States to its core. It was a day that will be mourned and remembered for generations to come. It was also a day that revealed the courage of a lot of men and women.
On December 7th, 1941, Doris Miller was one individual who set himself apart and was recognized for his bravery and strength that day.
Doris Miller, who went by Dorrie, was born in Waco, TX in Oct of 1919. He worked on his family’s farm and played high school football until he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1939. He wanted to travel and support his family.
After enlisting, he accepted a position as a ship’s mess attendant aboard the USS West Virginia. During his time stationed at Pearl Harbor, he rose quickly in the ranks to Ship’s Cook, Third Class.
Doris Miller was below deck on the USS West Virginia, the morning of the attack. He was doing laundry when the ship’s alarm called the crew to it’s battle stations. Miller immediately headed to a gun magazine midship.
As he moved through the ship, a torpedo struck the vessel, damaging the magazine that Miller was headed for. Miller immediately began to carry the wounded to safety, one of them being the ship's commander, Capt. Mervyn Bennion, was wounded beyond saving.
Miller then took control of a .50 caliber anti-aircraft gun.
He had zero training on the weapon system, but continued to fire upon the enemy until the “abandon ship” order was given.
Miller’s actions during the attack on Pearl Harbor earned him a commendation from the Secretary of the Navy and the Navy Cross, which was presented to him on May 27th, 1942 by Chester Nimitz, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Doris Miller was later killed in 1943 when a torpedo sank his ship, the carrier Liscome Bay.
On June 30th, 1973, the USS Miller was commissioned by the Nave in his honor.