American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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A Naval Hero

Above and Beyond the Call of Duty--
"Above and Beyond the Call of Duty--
Dorie Miller Receives the Navy Cross
at Pearl Harbor, May 27, 1942"
Color offset poster, no. 68
Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1943
Prints & Photographs Division (58.5)

On December 7, 1941, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Mess Attendant Doris "Dorie" Miller came to the aid of his shipmates on the U.S.S. West Virginia, helping to move the injured out of harm's way, including the mortally wounded captain. Though untrained in its use, Miller also manned an antiaircraft machine gun, downing several Japanese planes before being ordered to abandon the sinking ship. Miller's courage and devotion to duty at Pearl Harbor earned him the Navy Cross, the first ever awarded to an African American sailor. This honor is even greater in light of the fact African Americans were only allowed to serve in the messman's branch of the Navy at the time. Though later killed in action in 1943, Miller's legacy of bravery in the face of great danger and discrimination lives on.

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