Social Justice Activists | Doris (Dorie) Miller

Doris Miller photoDoris (Dorie) Miller is the rarely acknowledged hero of Pearl Harbor, who gave his life in service of the United States.

Born in 1919, Miller worked on his family’s farm until he joined the Navy in 1938 as a mess attendant (Kelly, 2012). Segregation meant that black Americans like Miller could not participate fully, and were not allowed in combat positions (Kelly, 2012).

However, on December 7, 1941, Miller changed the course of history. When Japanese planes began bombing the ship, Miller sprang into duty, collecting bodies of the injured and dead (Kelly, 2012). Miller realized that the Japanese were continuing their attack, and he picked up an antiaircraft machine gun, shooting down several of their aircraft (Kelly, 2012). Miller’s feat was impressive, considering he had received no training on the weapon (Kelly, 2012).

Miller’s courageous efforts were almost lost, were it not for the journalism of the Pittsburgh Courier, who discovered his identity and shared his heroic efforts (Kelly, 2012). He received the Navy Cross in 1942 for his actions during the Pearl Harbor bombing (Kelly, 2012). Unfortunately, Miller did not live to see a much deserved military retirement, as he died serving on the USS Liscome Bay in 1943 (Kelly, 2012).


Author’s Note: Stories vary somewhat on the actual details of the day. This version reflects the least sensational version.


Kelly, K. (2012, Feb 20). Dorie Miller (1919-1943), hero of World War II. Retrieved from