27 May 1942 Doris Miller is awarded the Navy Cross.

 Enlarge in a new window (28k).
Photo courtesy of Naval Historical Center

Doris Miller, (1919-1943)
Cook Third Class
United States Navy

Doris Miller was born in Waco, Texas, on October 12, 1919, to Henrietta and Connery Miller. He was the third of four sons and grew up in a strong and loving household. He enjoyed playing with his brothers but was also a considerate child. He often helped around the house, cooking meals and doing laundry, as well as working the fields. Miller was a good student and a fullback on the football team at Waco's A.J. Moore High School. They called him the "Raging Bull" because of his size (5'9", over 200 lbs).

He worked on his father's farm until enlisting in the United States Navy as Mess Attendant, Third Class in September 1939. Known as "Dorie" to shipmates and friends, Miller advanced to Mess Attendant, Second Class and First Class, and subsequently was promoted to Ship's Cook, Third Class. His older brother Selvia, served in the Army during World War II.

Following training at the Naval Training Station in Norfolk, Virginia, Miller was assigned to the ammunition ship USS Pyro where he served as a Mess Attendant. In January 1940, Miller was transferred to USS West Virginia, where he became the ship's heavyweight boxing champion. In July of that year he had temporary duty aboard USS Nevada at Secondary Battery Gunnery School and then returned to West Virginia and on August 3. Miller was serving on the USS West Virginia on that fateful day in December when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

"Tora Tora Tora!"
Miller was awake and collecting laundry when the alarm sounded. He headed for his battle station, the anti-aircraft battery magazine, only to find 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.

During the attack, Japanese aircraft dropped two armored piercing bombs through the deck of the battleship and launched five 18-inch aircraft torpedoes into her port side. Heavily damaged by the ensuing explosions, and suffering from severe flooding below decks, the crew abandoned ship while the West Virginia slowly settled to the harbor bottom. Of the 1,541 men on West Virginia during the attack, 130 were killed and 52 wounded.

Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox commended Miller on April 1, 1942, and on May 27, 1942 he received the Navy Cross, which Fleet Admiral (then Admiral) and fellow Texan Chester W. Nimitz, the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet personally presented to Miller on board the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise for his extraordinary courage in battle.

On December 13, 1941, Miller reported to the USS Indianapolis and subsequently returned to the United States in November 1942. Assigned to the newly constructed USS Liscome Bay in the spring of 1943, Miller was on board that escort carrier during Operation Galvanic, the seizure of Makin and Tarawa Atolls in the Gilbert Islands. Liscome Bay's aircraft supported operations ashore between November 20-23, 1943. On the morning of November 24, while cruising near Butaritari Island, a single torpedo from Japanese submarine I-175 struck the escort carrier near the stern. The aircraft bomb magazine detonated a few moments later, sinking the warship within minutes. Listed as missing following the loss of that escort carrier, Miller was officially presumed dead November 25, 1944, a year and a day after the loss of Liscome Bay. Only 272 Sailors survived the sinking of Liscome Bay, while 646 died.

USS Miller
USS Miller
The USS Miller at sea.

 Enlarge in a new window (102k).
Photo courtesy of Naval Historical Center
USS Miller Insignia
The USS Miller Insignia.

 Enlarge in a new window (60k).
Photo courtesy of Naval Historical Center

Courage : Devotion
In addition to the Navy Cross, Miller was awarded the Purple Heart, the American Defense Service Medal - Fleet Clasp, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

On June 30, 1973, the United States Navy commissioned the USS Miller (FF-1091), a Knox-class frigate, in honor of Doris Miller.

Academy Award winner  Cuba Gooding Jr. will play the part of Doris Miller in Touchstone's Pearl Harbor. The film is scheduled for U.S. wide release on May 25, 2001.

Miller, Vickie Gail. Doris Miller: A Silent Medal of Honor Winner. Austin: Eakin Press, 1997.
Naval Historical Center http://www.history.navy.mil

Original content copyright © 2001 DorisMiller.com. All Rights Reserved

Public Relations: Marcia Williams & Associates
Site Design: Stream Studio Web Architects