Doris Miller: Hero of Pearl

On this day, we remember those who were a part of the greatest generation. We remember those who were thrust into extreme peril, a war on two fronts. We remember men like Doris Miller who on this day exemplified the best this nation had to offer. Three hundred and fifty-three planes from six different aircraft carriers attacked ships of the Pacific Fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor.

Doris Miller was one one of those ships. The USS West Virginia, a Colorado-class battleship bristling with 8 x 16-inch guns, 12 x 5-inch guns, 4 x 3-inch guns, 2 torpedo tubes, and numerous .50 caliber machine gun stations. Needless to say, this ship packed a massive punch. Yet on this morning with most sailors ashore and the obvious nature of the surprise attack, the West Virginia, like many other ships were caught unaware.

This didn’t stop Doris from dispensing justice as he ran to his battle station only to find that a torpedo had already crippled the anti-aircraft battery magazine he would have manned. Again undeterred by the onslaught unleashed against him and his crew, Doris reported for duty where he moved Captain Mervyn S. Bennion to shelter behind the conning tower. Doris then proceeded to hastily learn to employ the .50 caliber machine guns aft of the conning tower.

Doris did so with reckless abandon until he ran out of ammunition. After which he helped move sailors to safety through the smoke, fire, and water saving numerous lives. Whatever needed to be done that day, Doris did. Despite the unfathomable circumstances, he found himself in, there wasn’t a single thing that Doris Miller wouldn’t do for his fellow sailors and his country.

For his actions that day Doris Miller was awarded the Navy Cross, at the time the nations third highest award for valor. It has since been upgraded to the second highest award for valor. In the opinion of this Marine, Doris should have received the Medal of Honor for his selflessness and willingness to do anything and everything asked of him on that fateful day. Numerous times putting himself at risk of death or grievous bodily harm, taking the fight to the enemy, and rescuing his fellow sailors.

Remember well, men like these.

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