Doris Miller, known as "Dorie" to shipmates and friends, was born in Waco, Texas, on October 12, 1919 to Henrietta and Conery Miller. He had three brothers. While attending Moore High School in Waco, he was a fullback on the football team. He worked on his father's farm before enlisting in the U.S Navy as Mess Attendant, Third Class, at Dallas, Texas, on September 16, 1939. He later was commended by the Secretary of the Navy, was advanced to Mess Attendant, Second Class and First Class, and subsequently wa]['p;los promoted to Cook, Third Class.
Following training at the Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia, Miller was assigned to the ammunition ship USS Pyro (AE-1) where he served as a Mess Attendant and on January 2, 1940 was transferred to USS West Virginia (BB-48), where he became the ship's heavyweight boxing champion.
In July of that year he had temporary duty aboard USS Nevada (BB-36) at Secondary Battery Gunnery School. He returned to West Virginia and on August 3 and was serving in that battleship when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Miller had arisen at 6 a.m., and was collecting laundry when the alarm for general quarters sounded. He headed for his battle station, the anti-aircraft battery magazine amidship, only to discover 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. He had not been trained to operate that particular weapon, but described it as not "hard" and "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."
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 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. Subsequently refloated, repaired, and modernized, the battleship served in the Pacific theater through to the end of the war in August 1945.
Miller was commended by the Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox on April 1, 1942, and on May 27, 1942 he received the Navy Cross, which Fleet Admiral (then Admiral) Chester W. Nimitz, the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet personally presented to Miller on board aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) for his extraordinary courage in battle. Speaking of Miller, Nimitz remarked: "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 that the future will see others similarly honored for brave acts."
Assigned to the newly constructed USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56) 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. At 5:10 a.m. on 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.
In addition to the Navy Cross, Miller was entitled to the Purple Heart Medal; the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal.
Commissioned on June 30, 1973, USS Miller (FF-1091), a Knox-class frigate, was named in honor of Doris Miller.
On October 11, 1991, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority dedicated a bronze commemorative plaque of Miller at the Miller Family Park located on the U.S. Naval Base, Pearl Harbor.
Issued February 4, 2010 as part of the Distinguished Sailors set of commemorative stamps, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 44-cent stamp honoring Doris Miller. The Doris Miller stamp features a detail from a photograph of Miller (1942). Beside the photograph is a depiction of the crest of the destroyer escort USS Miller (DE-1091), which was commissioned in 1973.
Excerpt from http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq57-4.htm and http://www.usps.com/communications/newsroom/2009/pr09_118.htm.