WHEREAS, after a boyhood of farming and football in Waco, Texas, Doris "Dorie" Miller enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1939 as a Mess Attendant, he was 19 and wanted to see the world and earn some money to send home; he was soon promoted to seamen second class, then seamen first class, and finally to Ship's Cook, third class; and
WHEREAS, following training at the Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia, Miller was assigned to the ammunition ship USS Pyro (AE-1) where he served as a Mess Attendant and on 2 January 1940, Miller was transferred to the battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48), where he became the ship's heavyweight boxing champion; and
WHEREAS, he was temporarily assigned for training at the Secondary Battery Gunnery School aboard USS Nevada (BB-36) for two months before returning to USS West Virginia in August 1940, and was serving in that battleship when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and
WHEREAS, on December 7, 1941, the morning of the Japanese attack, Miller arose at 6 a.m., and was collecting laundry when the alarm for general quarters sounded; he headed for his battle station, the antiaircraft battery magazine only to discover that it was wrecked by torpedo damage. He then physically carried wounded fellow Sailors, through oil and water to places of greater safety, to include the captain injured on the bridge, thereby saving the lives of sailors who otherwise would have been lost; and
WHEREAS, at the risk of being court marshaled because he, as an African American, was not authorized to operate a weapon, Miller went back to the deck and manned a .50 caliber-machine gun until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship as the West Virginia slowly settled to the bottom of the harbor leaving 130 men killed and 52 wounded of the 1,541 person crew; and
WHEREAS, Miller described firing the machine gun during the battle, a weapon which he had not been trained to operate:"It wasn't hard. I just pulled the trigger and she worked fine. I had watched the others with these guns. I guess I fired her for about fifteen minutes. I think I got one of those Jap planes. They were diving pretty close to us;'' and
WHEREAS, Miller was commended by the Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox on 1 April 1942, and on 27 May 1942 he was awarded the Navy Cross, presented for courage under fire, by Fleet Admiral (then Admiral) Chester W. Nimitz, the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet on board aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) for his extraordinary courage in battle and while speaking of Miller, Nimitz remarked: "This marks the first time in this conflict that such high tribute has been made in the Pacific Fleet to a member of his race and I'm sure that the future will see others similarly honored for brave acts;" and
WHEREAS, Miller continued to serve in the Pacific and although he was given the option of not going into battle, volunteered for reassignment in 1943 to a new escort carrier, the USS Liscome Bay and early on the morning of 24 November 1943, off Butaritari Island, in the South Pacific, a Japanese submarine's torpedo came ripping Into the Liscome Bay, detonating a bomb magazine, sinking the ship within minutes, killing 646 of its 918 sailors, including Doris Miller; and
WHEREAS, Miller was the first African American to receive the Navy Cross, the second highest military decoration for valor that may be awarded to a member of the United States Navy, because Miller jeopardized his life under heavy fire by bringing other Sailors to safety and manning a machine gun he was never trained on, nor allowed to operate, in a Navy where Blacks could only serve as mess attendants, stewards, and cooks; and
WHEREAS, Miller's sacrifices afforded him a reputation far above his rank, inspired and motivated other African-Americans to join the U.S. Navy, and in recognition of his exemplary performance, the U.S. Navy in 1973 commissioned the frigate the USS Miller in his honor; and
WHEREAS, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) joins in the chorus of supporters who believe that Doris Miller should be awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration by the United States government, bestowed by Congress on members of the U.S. Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States."
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) urges the United States Congress to posthumously bestow the Medal of Honor upon Ship's Cook Third Class, Doris "Dorie" Miller who on 7 December 1941, while the USS West Virginia was being heavily attacked by a Japanese air raid, used his physical prowess to carry wounded Sailors from above deck to safety, thereby saving Sailors lives that would have otherwise been lost, and without training and facing the risk of being court-martialed, manned a .50 caliber-machine gun until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship and whose courage inspired and motivated other African-Americans to join the U.S. Navy, and who has earned and should be honored with the highest military decoration by the United States government for demonstrating personal valor in the face of almost certain death.