Salute A Soldier: Doris Miller

In this edition of #saluteasoldier, we salute Doris Miller, an American Sailor who made major contributions during the attacks on Pearl Harbor. He was born on October 12, 1919, in Waco, Texas. Before Pearl Harbor, Miller enlisted in the U.S Navy on September 16, 1939, as a Mess Attendant Third Class, a position that was given to few African Americans. He was first assigned to an ammunition ship called Pyro but later transferred to West Virginia on January 2, 1940. On this ship he would start boxing, becoming the ship’s heavyweight champion. He would rise to the position of Mess Attendant Second Class in 1941. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese would attack the naval base; Pearl Harbor. Miller was on duty collecting laundry on the lower deck of the USS West Virginia when the alarm ordered crewmembers to their battle stations. Miller would see that his station was destroyed by a Japanese torpedo. Miller would start carrying wounded men to safety including Capt. Mervyn Bennison the ship’s Commander. Miller then started shooting at enemy planes with a .50 caliber anti-aircraft gun (he was not trained to operate) which is used for an aerial attack. His #valor would earn him the Navy Cross which is the second-highest decoration after the Medal of Honor. After the attacks, a hero in his own right, Miller would become the face of recruiting African Americans to enlist in the navy. Miller would continue to serve until his death at the Battle of Makin on November 20, 1943, where his ship was struck by a Japanese submarine and would sink, killing 628 crewmembers out of 900, he was 24.





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