Valor Transcends

Dorie Miller, the first African American recipient of the Navy Cross, was ordered to save himself from the blazing USS West Virginia December 7, 1941. The mess attendant disobeyed orders, ignoring bullets, bombers and torpedoes to carry his wounded commander to safety. Then in violation of orders prohibiting blacks from firing weapons, Miller used an anti-aircraft battery to fire at the planes. After the attack, Miller of Waco, Texas, was awarded the Navy’s highest honor personally by Admiral Chester Nimitz.

Two years later he was lost at sea when his ship was torpedoed. In his honor, a new Navy housing area at Pearl Harbor bears his name.

Miller’s was one of several stories told during a service at the USS Arizona Memorial commemorating the 55th anniversary of the infamous Japanese attack. The keynote speaker, Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Adm. Archie Clemins noted “Through his name, we are reminded that heroism and valor transcend racial and ethnic bounds and that, as Americans, our strength lies in our ability to help one another in time of need.”

from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel