Today the at Pearl Harbor the U.S. Navy is naming their new Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carrier after Pearl Harbor hero Doris Miller. The new ship will be the first aircraft carrier named after an African-American. Doris Miller is also the first African-American to be awarded with the Navy Cross. Miller earned the award for his brave and selfless actions during the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor.
On the morning of December 7 1941, Miller was doing laundry when the attack began and the alarm sounded. His normal battle station aboard the USS West Virginia was an antiaircraft battery magazine that was destroyed by a torpedo. Miller moved onto the deck and starting evacuating wounded Sailors to safety. He then manned a 50 caliber machine gun and fired at enemy aircraft until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship. African-Americans were not allowed to man weapons stations in the U.S. Navy in 1941. Miller had no formal training on the 50 caliber. The Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, Chester W. Nimitz awarded Doris with the Navy Cross at Pearl Harbor in May of 1942.
Miller died in 1943 when his ship was hit by a Japanese torpedo. The Knox-Class design destroyer escort USS Miller was also named after Miller. The USS Miller was decommissioned in 1991.