The US Navy will be naming a new aircraft carrier after Doris “Dorie” Miller, a decorated African American World War II veteran who defended Pearl Harbor.
The US Navy has announced that its new aircraft carrier will be named after Doris Miller, an African American World War II soldier who defended the Hawaii naval base during the 1941 attack. This makes it the first aircraft carrier to be named after an African American.
The announcement was made by Navy Acting Secretary Thomas Modly during a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the national holiday commemorating the life of the slain civil rights leader.
During the Pearl Harbor attack, Miller defended the base by manning an anti-aircraft machine gun aboard the battleship USS West Virginia “until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship”.
A Navy biography stated that he “had not been trained to operate” the weapon but he was believed to have shot down a Japanese plane during the attack. Because of his exploits, he received the following year the Navy Cross, the highest medal awarded by the Navy, becoming the first African American to receive the honor.
Modly said: “Dorie Miller stood for everything that is good about our nation. His story deserves to be remembered and repeated wherever our people continue to stand the watch today.”
Modly mentioned that the aircraft carrier to be named after Miller would also be the first one to be named after an enlisted sailor.
According to his biography, Miller fought in the Pacific Theater until November 1943, when his ship was sunk by a Japanese submarine torpedo. He was listed as missing for a year and a day before being presumed dead on November 25, 1944.
Aside from the Navy Cross, Miller also received the Purple Heart Medal and the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp, as well as the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.