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Navy names ship after Pearl Harbor hero

by Rachel Lynn Aldrich
Posted 1/21/20, 11:47 am

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, World War II veteran Doris Miller became the first African American to have an aircraft carrier named in his honor. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly announced the honor in Honolulu on Monday.

What did Miller do? The then-22-year-old mess attendant was collecting laundry when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began on Dec. 7, 1941. A torpedo destroyed his normal station, and he manned a machine gun to return fire against attacking Japanese planes. He also carried wounded soldiers to safety. At the time, African Americans were not allowed to man a gun in the Navy, said Doreen Ravenscroft, a team leader for the Doris Miller Memorial. Miller died in November 1943 when a Japanese submarine torpedoed the ship he served on. The Navy also has named a destroyer escort in Miller’s honor, and he was the first African American to receive the Navy Cross for valor.

Dig deeper: From the WORLD archives, read how 100 African American officers helped integrate the U.S. military during World War II.

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Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Rachel is an assistant editor for WORLD Digital. She is a Patrick Henry College and World Journalism Institute graduate. Rachel resides with her husband in Wheaton, Ill.

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