The AFRO American newspaper has launched a petition to President Obama to award the Congressional Medal of Honor to Messman Attendant Second Class Doris “Dorie” Miller for his service to the nation during World War II.

Doris-Miller

The petition was launched on the website Change.org on Feb. 25, and is linked to the AFRO’s  Facebook page. At press time, the petition had garnered 750 supporters.

On Dec. 7, 1941 Miller put forth courageous effort when his ship, the USS West Virginia, came under attack by Japanese fighter planes at Pearl Harbor.  As the battle between the two began to escalate, Miller lugged numerous shipmates out of the line of fire to safety.  Afterwards, he secured a 50-caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun and shot down a number of attacking aircraft.

“Dorie Miller, one of Pearl Harbor’s biggest heroes has been deprived of recognition far too long,” AFRO Publisher Jake Oliver said.  “The Congressional Medal of Honor, while not making up for the discrimination that he and his actions have been subjected to, will nevertheless set the record straight.”

Miller, despite being aware of the racial battlegrounds he was entering, joined the Navy on Sept. 16, 1939, saying “it beats sitting around Waco working as a bus boy, going nowhere.”  Regardless of their educational background, non-white sailors were expected to be mess men, stewards and cabin boys, not trained for combat.

“Dorie Miller sacrificed his life for a country that didn’t respect who he was as an individual,” AFRO Archivist Ja-Zette Marshburn said.  “He risked his life for people who didn’t care for him simply because he was a Black man. He is the definition of what the Congressional Medal of Honor is about.”