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First Name: Doris

Last Name: Miller

Birthplace: Waco, TX, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)

Rating: Cook Petty Officer 3rd Class

Date of Birth: 12 October 1919

Date of Death: 24 November 1943 (Official)

Rank or Rate: Petty Officer Third Class

Years Served:
Doris Miller

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Doris "Dorie" Miller
Cook Third Class, U.S. Navy

Doris Miller was born on 12 October 1919 in Waco, TX, 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 (5 feet 9 inches and over 200 pounds). They called him the "Raging Bull" because of his emotions. He was kicked out of high school because he would get into fights with other students about his race.

He worked on his father′s farm until enlisting in the U.S. Navy as Mess Attendant, Third Class in September 1939. Following training at the Naval Training Station, Norfolk, VA, Miller was assigned to the ammunition ship USS Pyro where he served as a Mess Attendant and on 2 January 1940 was transferred to the battleship USS West Virginia, where he became the ship′s main cook. In July of that year, he had temporary duty aboard the USS Nevada (BB-36) at Secondary Battery Gunnery School. He returned to West Virginia on 3 August 1940.

Attack on Pearl Harbor

On 7 December 1941, Miller awoke at 0600 and was collecting laundry when the alarm for General Quarters was sounded. He headed for his battle station, the anti-aircraft battery magazine amidships, only to discover that torpedo damage had destroyed it. He went on deck where he was assigned to carry wounded fellow sailors to safer locations. When Captain Mervyn Bennion was injured by a bomb splinter, an officer ordered Miller to the bridge to help in the effort to move him to a place of relative safety. Miller picked him up and attempted to carry him to a first-aid station; the Captain refused to leave his post and remained on the bridge until his death.

When directed to assist in loading a pair of unattended Browning .50 caliber anti-aircraft machine guns, Miller took control of one and began firing at the Japanese planes, even though he had no training in operating the weapon. He fired the gun until he ran out of ammunition. Japanese aircraft eventually dropped two armor-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, West Virginia slowly settled to the harbor bottom as her crew-including Miller-abandoned ship. Miller was commended by Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox on 1 April 1942 and, on 27 May 1942, he received the Navy Cross, which Admiral Chester W. Nimitz-Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet-presented to Miller on board aircraft carrier USS Enterprise for his extraordinary courage in battle.

Miller′s rate was raised to Mess Attendant First Class on 1 June. On 27 June, the Pittsburgh Courier called for Miller to be allowed to return home for a war bond tour like white heroes. On 23 November, Miller arrived at Maui, and was ordered on a war bond tour while still attached to the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis. In December 1942 and January 1943, he gave talks in Oakland, CA; in his hometown of Waco, TX; in Dallas, TX; and to the first graduating class of African-American sailors from Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Chicago, IL.

In the 6 February 1943 issue, the Pittsburgh Courier continued to hammer for the Navy to return Miller for a war bond tour. The caption to Miller′s photo read, "He fought...Keeps Mop," while another hero of Maui got a commission. It said that Miller was "too important waiting tables in the Pacific to return him," even though he was already on tour.

Doris Miller reported for duty at Puget Sound Navy Yard on 15 May 1943. His rate was again raised, to Petty Officer, Ship′s Cook Third Class on 1 June and he reported to the escort carrier USS Liscome Bay. After training in Hawaii for the Gilbert Islands operation, Liscome Bay participated in the Battle of Tarawa which began on 20 November. On 24 November, a single torpedo from the 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. There were 272 survivors. The rest of the crew was listed as "presumed dead." On 7 December 1943, Petty Officer Miller′s parents were notified their son "was dead."

A memorial service was held on 30 April 1944, at the Waco, TX, Second Baptist Church, sponsored by the Victory Club. On 28 May, a granite marker was dedicated at Moore High School to honor Miller. On 25 November 1944, James Forrestal-the Secretary of the Navy-announced that Miller was "dead."

Many officers and men in the Navy felt that for his actions on USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor, Miller should have been awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medals and Awards

Navy Cross
Purple Heart
American Defense Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal


USS Miller (FF-1091)-a Knox-class frigate-was commissioned on 30 June 1973 in honor of Miller.

The Doris Miller Foundation was founded in 1947, to give an annual award to the individual or group considered outstanding in the field of race relations.

The Bachelor Enlisted Quarters at Great Lakes Naval Base was dedicated to Miller's memory on 7 December 1971.

A monument dedicated to Miller is at the Waco Veterans Medical Center, Waco, TX.

Doris Miller Drive - located at the Waco Veterans Medical Center.

Dorie Miller Center - A former shopping center located in San Antonio, TX.

Dorie Miller Houses - A housing co-operative complex located in Corona, NY.

Dorie Miller Housing Project - housing community, located in Gary, IN.

Doris Miller Elementary School - located in San Antonio, TX.

Dorie Miller Elementary School - located in San Diego, CA.

Doris Miller Elementary School - located in Waco, TX.

Doris Miller YMCA - located in Waco, TX.

Doris Miller Junior High School - located in San Marcos, TX.

Doris Miller Auditorium - located in Austin, TX.

Doris Miller Community Center - A recreation facility located in Newport News, VA.

Doris Miller Park - a housing community for junior officers located on Maui.

Doris Miller Post 915 - an American Legion post located in Chicago, IL.

Dorie E Miller Post 817 Beaumont, TX.

Dorie Miller American Legion Chapter 14 - a Disabled American Veterans Chapter located in Washington, DC.

On 11 October 1991, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority dedicated a bronze commemorative plaque of Miller at the Miller Family Park located on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, HI.

Dorie Miller Park - Lewisburg, WV.

i>Dorie Miller Drive- Champaign, IL.

Doris Miller Loop - Honolulu, HI, monument located at north end of street.

Honored by the U.S. Postal Service as one of four Distinguished Sailors, with a 44 cent commemorative stamp issued on 4 February 2010.

In 2002, Molefi Kete Asante listed Doris Miller on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.

Popular Culture

Miller′s face adorned the U.S. Navy recruiting poster "above and beyond the call of duty".

In 1942, Miller′s actions were dramatized on the CBS radio series They Live Forever. The Gwendolyn Brooks poem Negro Hero (1945) is narrated from Miller′s point of view. Although he was not identified by name, he was portrayed by Elven Havard in the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora!

In Michael Bay′s 2001 film Pearl Harbor, Miller was portrayed by Academy Award-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr.

In 2007, historian Bill O'Neal published Doris Miller: Hero of Pearl Harbor.

Death and Burial

Cook Third Class Doris Miller died on 24 November 1943. His body was lost at sea. His name is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial in Honolulu, HI.

Honoree ID: 2866   Created by: MHOH




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