Miller, Dorie

(1919-1943)
   Born in Waco, Texas, the son of black sharecroppers, Dorie Miller joined the navy as a mess attendant— one of the few positions in the navy open to African Americans at the time—in 1939. He was aboard the battleship USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on 7 December 1941. Miller carried his wounded captain to safety and then, although not trained, manned a gun, which he kept firing until ordered to stop. When the black newspaper, the Pittsburgh Courier, heard the story in March 1942, it began to press for Miller to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Despite public and congressional support, the request was denied by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox. However, President Franklin D. Roosevelt intervened, and he was awarded the Navy Cross. After spending some time in public relations for the navy, Miller returned to active service at sea. He was among the crew of the escort carrier Liscombe Bay lost when the ship was sunk in the Battle of Makin on 24 November 1943.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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