US Navy to Name New Aircraft Carrier After African American Hero

Paula Liu
By Paula Liu
January 19, 2020USshare

The U.S. Navy will be naming a future Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier after an African American hero during the second world war, according to a news release issued on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 19, by the U.S. Navy.

As indicated by the news release, the announcement will be made by Thomas B. Modly, the Acting Secretary of the Navy Public Affairs, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day during the ceremony in Hawaii on Monday, Jan. 20. In addition, the ceremony will also be focusing on addressing the contributions that other African Americans have made.

This will be the second ship named in honor of Miller, and the first aircraft carrier ever named for an African American. This will also be the first aircraft carrier to be named in honor of a Sailor for actions while serving in the enlisted ranks

“In selecting this name, we honor the contributions of all our enlisted ranks, past and present, men and women, of every race, religion, and background,” Modly said, according to the news release.

“Doris Miller stood for everything that is good about our nation, and his story deserves to be remembered and repeated wherever our people continue the watch today,” said Modly.

Miller enlisted in the military from Sept. 16, 1939, and served until he died on Nov. 25, 1944 (when he was officially presumed dead), according to the historical naval profiles. During this time, he started as a Mess Attendant and worked his way to being promoted to Cook, third class. Miller served on three different ships—the USS Pyro, the USS West Virginia, and the USS Nevada. He was on the USS West Virginia when Pearl Harbor was attacked, according to Miller’s profile.

“On Dec. 7, 1941, Miller was collecting laundry on the battleship West Virginia (BB-48), when the attack from Japanese forces commenced. When the alarm for general quarters sounded he headed for his battle station, an anti-aircraft battery magazine, only to discover that torpedo damage had wrecked it. Miller was ordered to the ship’s bridge to aid the mortally wounded commanding officer and subsequently manned a .50 caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun until he ran out of ammunition. Miller then helped move many other injured Sailors as the ship was ordered abandoned due to her own fires and flaming oil floating from destroyed Arizona (BB-33). West Virginia lost 150 of its 1,500 person crew,” the news release stated.

It was for these heroic actions that Miller received a commendation from Frank Knox, the then Secretary of the Navy. Admiral Chester Nimitz, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at that time, presented Miller with the Navy Cross.

During his time of service, Miller also awarded the Purple Heart Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal, according to his profile.


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