WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Kweisi Mfume (MD-07) announced the introduction of a pair of bills to commemorate the life and legacy of African American Mess Attendant Doris ‘Dorie’ Miller. During the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mess Attendant Miller manned an anti-aircraft gun and downed enemy planes, despite the fact that the racially segregated steward’s branch of the Navy was not trained to use anti-aircraft guns. Congressman Mfume’s bills seek to award the Medal of Honor and a Congressional Gold Medal to Mess Attendant Miller.
“Today is ‘Dorie Miller Day’ on Capitol Hill. Dorie Miller protected America, and we are all the beneficiaries of his bravery. His valiance is even more admirable because he courageously worked to save a democracy that he could not fully enjoy at that time, as the United States military did not become fully integrated until almost seven years after his heroism in World War II,” said Congressman Mfume. “I am honored to continue the work of my friend, former Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who had fought to give Mess Attendant Miller’s legacy the celebration of the Medal of Honor since 2001. And with my dual-tracked legislative effort to award both the Medal of Honor and a Congressional Gold Medal, Dorie Miller will finally be recognized with an American salute that is long overdue,” he concluded.
The Life of Doris ‘Dorie’ Miller
Born in Waco, Texas on October 12, 1919.
Son of Connery and Henrietta Miller.
Dropped out of school to support the family farm, worked part-time as a cook in a small restaurant in Waco.
Enlisted in the United States Navy in September of 1939.
After bootcamp training, was assigned to the USS West Virginia as a messman.
Quickly moved up in the ranks from messman to ship’s cook, third class, and was stationed at Pearl Harbor.
Black sailors serving in the racially segregated steward’s branch of the Navy were not trained to use anti-aircraft guns.
On December 7, 1941, Doris Miller was doing laundry at around 8:00 a.m. when a Japanese torpedo hit his ship, anchored in Pearl Harbor.
He rushed to the main deck to help move his mortally wounded captain out of harm’s way and attend to other wounded sailors.
He then manned a 0.50-calibre anti-aircraft gun and fired at the attacking planes.
According to news stories and other sailors’ accounts, Doris Miller downed 2 to 5 enemy planes before he was forced to abandon ship.
National Awards and the Medal of Honor
Doris Miller was awarded a commendation from the Secretary of the Navy as well as the Navy Cross on May 27, 1942, in a ceremony at Pearl Harbor.
The Navy recently commissioned an aircraft carrier to be named after Doris Miller, and the town of Waco, Texas recently unveiled a riverside memorial.
Doris Miller has yet to receive the Navy’s highest award, the Medal of Honor.
Mr. Miller’s family and friends have fought for decades to convince the Navy to award Doris Miller with the Medal of Honor posthumously.
More than 15 cities have expressed support, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution endorsing the effort in 2001.
Congress has introduced a resolution in support of the Navy awarding Doris Miller the Medal of Honor every year since 2015.
Decisions on military honors are typically reserved for the military, and the Navy has not yet decided to change course on Doris Miller’s status.
Medal of Honor Bill – Doris Miller
This bill authorizes the President to award the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration in the United States Armed Forces, to Mess Attendant Doris ‘Dorie’ Miller.
Former Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson had fought to give Mess Attendant Miller’s legacy this recognition since 2001.
This legislation is endorsed by the National Association for Black Veterans (NABVETs) and the Dorie Miller Medal of Honor Committee.
Congressional Gold Medal Bill – Doris Miller
The second bill of this dual-tracked legislative effort to federally recognize Doris Miller awards him posthumously the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the United States.
If approved by Congress, Doris Miller’s family would receive the medal and it would be displayed at the Smithsonian Museum.