Black HistoryNational

Aircraft Carrier Named for WWII Hero Doris Miller Now on Drawing Boards

Is First Named After an African American

A future Naval supercarrier named after an African American World War II hero who saved countless lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor is now on the drawing boards.

It is the second ship named in honor of Mess Attendant 2nd class Doris “Dorie” Miller and the first aircraft carrier ever named for an African American. The USS Doris Miller will also be the first aircraft carrier to be named in honor of a sailor for actions while serving in the enlisted ranks.

Plans to name the Ford-class aircraft carrier for Miller were originally announced earlier this year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“In selecting this name, we honor the contributions of all our enlisted ranks, past and present, men and women, of every race, religion and background,” said former acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas B. Modly. “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observed, ‘Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.’ No one understands the importance and true meaning of service than those who have volunteered to put the needs of others above themselves.”

Mess Attendant 2nd Class Doris Miller (Courtesy of the U.S. Navy)
Mess Attendant 2nd Class Doris Miller (Courtesy of the U.S. Navy)

According to naval records on Dec. 7, 1941, Miller was collecting laundry on the battleship USS West Virginia when the attack from 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 a .50 caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun until he ran out of ammunition.

Miller then helped move many other injured sailors as the ship was ordered abandoned due to fires and flaming oil floating down from the destroyed USS Arizona. The West Virginia lost 150 of its 1,500-person crew.

Miller described firing the machine gun during the battle, a weapon which Black sailors were forbidden to operate.

“It wasn’t hard. I just pulled the trigger and she worked fine. I had watched the others with these guns. I guess I fired her for about fifteen minutes. I think I got one of those Jap planes. They were diving pretty close to us.”

His actions during the attack earned him a commendation from then-Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox and the Navy Cross, which was presented to him personally by Adm. Chester Nimitz, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at the time.

Nimitz said, “This marks the first time in this conflict that such high tribute has been made in the Pacific Fleet to a member of his race and I’m sure the future will see others similarly honored for brave acts.”

Born in Waco, Texas, on Oct. 12, 1919, Miller was a high school football standout who worked on his father’s farm before enlisting in the U.S Navy as a mess attendant in 1939. Later transferred to USS West Virginia, Miller gained notoriety for his athletic prowess when he became the ship’s heavyweight boxing champion.

In 1943, Miller was the crew of about 900 aboard USS Liscome Bay when the ship was hit by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine and sank off Butaritari Atoll in the Gilbert Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Listed as missing following the loss of the escort carrier, he was officially presumed dead Nov. 25, 1944, a year and a day after the loss of Liscome Bay. He was 24 years old.

“Doris Miller stood for everything that is good about our nation, and his story deserves to be remembered and repeated wherever our people continue the watch today,” Modly said.

In 1973, the Navy commissioned USS Miller, a Knox-class destroyer escort named for Miller. It was decommissioned in 1991.

The Navy says the future USS Doris Miller and other Ford-class carriers will be the premier forward asset for crisis response and humanitarian relief, and early decisive striking power in major combat operations throughout its 50-year service life.

The USS Doris Miller will be the fourth carrier in the Gerald R. Ford class of carriers and is slated for commission in 2030.

Tags
Show More

Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s millennial publication. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, she attended Howard University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. A proud southern girl, her lineage can be traced to the Gullah people inhabiting the low-country of South Carolina. The history of the Gullah people and the Geechee Dialect can be found on the top floor of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In her spare time she enjoys watching either college football or the Food Channel and experimenting with make-up. When she’s not writing professionally she can be found blogging at www.sarafinasaid.com. E-mail: Swright@washingtoninformer.com Social Media Handles: Twitter: @dreamersexpress, Instagram: @Sarafinasaid, Snapchat: @Sarafinasaid

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Washington Informer Newspaper, 3117 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE, Washington, DC, 20032, http://www.washingtoninformer.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Back to top button

My News Matters to me - Washington Informer Donations

Be a Part of The Washington Informer Legacy

A donation of your choice empowers our journalists to continue the work to better inform, educate and empower you through technology and resources that you use.

Click Here Today to Support Black Press and be a part of the Legacy!

Subscribe today for free and be the first to have news and information delivered directly to your inbox.

Select list(s) to subscribe to


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Washington Informer Newspaper, 3117 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE, Washington, DC, 20032, http://www.washingtoninformer.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact
Close

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker