Dorie Miller, United States Navy, (1919-1943)
Doris ("Dorie") Miller was born in Waco, Texas, on 12 October 1919. He enlisted in the Navy in September 1939 as a Mess Attendant Third Class. On 7 December 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 antiaircraft 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. Ordinarily this is not unusual - except that Dorie was the Ships Cook and had no training in firing the weapon.
Miller described firing the machine gun during the battle, a weapon which he had not been trained 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." He was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions on this occasion.
Doris Miller served aboard USS Indianapolis (CA-35) from December 1941 to May 1943. He was then assigned to the escort carrier Liscome Bay (CVE-56). Cook Third Class Miller was lost with that ship when she was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on 24 November 1943, during the invasion of the Gilbert Islands.
In 1973, the USS Miller (FF-1091), a Knox-class frigate, was named in honor of Doris Miller.