Mess Attendant Doris Miller Receives the Navy Cross from Admiral Chester Nimitz

Doris Miller, Mess Attendant Second Class, US Navy, Receives the Navy Cross from Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, at an awards ceremony held on the flight deck of USS Enterprise (CV-6) at Pearl Harbor. Miller was commended by the Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox on April 1, 1942, and on May 27, 1942 he received the Navy Cross, which Fleet Admiral (then Admiral) Chester W. Nimitz, the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet personally presented to Miller on board aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) for his extraordinary courage in battle. 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." The medal was awarded for heroism on board USS West Virginia (BB-48) during the Pearl Harbor attack, December 7, 1941. Doris ("Dorie") Miller was born in Waco, Texas, on October 12, 1919. He enlisted in the Navy in September 1939 as a Mess Attendant Third Class. On December 7, 1941, while serving aboard USS West Virginia (BB-48), he distinguished himself by courageous conduct and devotion to duty during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions on this occasion. An effort to award him the Medal of Honor was not approved and some suspected racism. Doris Miller served aboard USS Indianapolis (CA-35) from December 1941 to May 1943. He was then assigned to the escort carrier Liscome Bay (CVE-56). Cook Third Class Miller was lost with that ship when she was torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-175 on November 24, 1943, during the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. Missing in action, he was declared dead on November 25, 1944.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
National Archives
Date Photographed: 
Wednesday, May 27, 1942
Pearl Harbor
United States