Future US Navy aircraft carrier to honour African-American hero of Pearl Harbor

Mess Attendant 3rd Class Doris "Dorie" Miller shortly after being awarded the Navy Cross in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor (Photo: US Navy)

Acting US Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly named a future Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier in honour of World War II hero US Navy Ship’s Cook 3rd Class Doris “Dorie” Miller during a ceremony in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Monday, January 20.

This will be the second ship named in honour of Miller, and the first aircraft carrier ever named for an African-American. This will also be the first aircraft carrier to be named in honour of a US Navy sailor for actions while serving in the enlisted ranks.

On December 7, 1941, Miller was collecting laundry on the battleship USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor when the attack by Japanese forces commenced. When the alarm for general quarters sounded, he headed for his battle station, an anti-aircraft battery magazine, only to discover that torpedo damage had wrecked it.

Miller was ordered to the ship’s bridge to aid the mortally wounded commanding officer, and subsequently manned an anti-aircraft machine gun, firing repeatedly at attacking Japanese aircraft until his ammunition was depleted.

He then helped move many other injured sailors as the ship was ordered abandoned due to its own fires and flaming oil floating down from the destroyed battleship USS Arizona moored nearby.

West Virginia lost 150 of its 1,500-person crew in the attack.

Miller’s actions during the attack earned him a commendation from then Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox and the Navy Cross, the US Navy’s second highest combat decoration.

In 1943, Miller died aboard the escort aircraft carrier USS Liscome Bay when it was hit by a torpedo and sank off Butaritari Atoll in the Gilbert Islands.

Baird Maritime

The best maritime site on the web. The sea's our scene!