Victims' Rights Caucus


Mr. Speaker, I have talked much on this House floor about our veterans, both those of today and those of the past. Tonight I mention another one of them.

Doris Miller was born in Waco, Texas, on October 12, 1919. He was the youngest of three sons born to Henrietta and Connery Miller. He was a good kid. He enjoyed playing with his brothers and was always helping around the house, especially in the kitchen. In school, Miller was a good student. He was also a fullback on the football team at A.J. Moore High School in Waco, Texas. They called him the raging bull because of his size. He was 5 foot 9, but he weighed over 200 pounds.

Growing up, Miller worked on his father's farm until he enlisted in the United States Navy at the age of 20 as a Mess Attendant, Third Class. He quickly advanced to Mess Attendant, Second Class and First Class, and subsequently he was promoted to Ship's Cook.

After training at the Naval station at Norfolk, Virginia, he was assigned to the ammunition ship USS Pyro; and on January 2, 1940, Dorie, as his shipmates nicknamed him, was transferred to the battleship USS West Virginia. When he was not cooking he was boxing with his buddies, and he became the ship's heavyweight boxing champion. He was serving on the battleship West Virginia that December morning in 1941 when the Japanese surprise attack took place.

As the bright rising and violent sun came up on the morning of December 7, 1941, Dorie was already awake and collecting laundry when the battle stations alarm sounded throughout the ship. Pearl Harbor and Hawaii were under attack.

He ran on deck to help his fellow wounded soldiers. In the midst of the chaos, an officer ordered him to aid the critically wounded captain of the ship. While struggling back to the bridge and then amid horrendous and heavy fire and bombs, Dorie came upon a machine gun whose gunner had already been killed. Dorie, rescuing his captain, made sure that he was protected and immediately began firing this machine gun at Japanese airplanes.

He continued firing until the crew was ordered to abandon the ship. Miller had never been trained to operate a machine gun, but he was credited with shooting down at least two Japanese planes, probably more than that. Later he said, ``I just pulled the trigger and she worked fine.''

In the spring of 1943, Dorie Miller was assigned to the USS Liscome Bay, an aircraft carrier in the Pacific, and he was on board November 24, 1943, when the aircraft carrier was sunk by a submarine; 646 sailors were lost at sea, and Dorie was one of them.

Before he died, Miller was honored for his brave acts at Pearl Harbor on December 7. He was awarded the second highest medal in the Navy, the Navy Cross, for his extraordinary courage during that battle. It happened that Admiral Chester Nimitz, another Texan, presented the award to Miller personally. And he said of Miller, ``This marks the first time in this conflict in this war that such high tribute has been made in the Pacific fleet to a member of this race, and I am sure that the future will see others of this race similarly honored for these brave acts.''

Admiral Nimitz mentioned Miller's race because he was black. The Navy had been integrated, but segregated responsibilities. So Miller, since he was black, he was assigned to being a cook on the ship. He was not required to be topside manning that .50-caliber machine gun on December 7, but he was there. He voluntarily helped protect his ship and protect his captain. By the way, Mr. Speaker, in the movie ``Pearl Harbor,'' Cuba Gooding, Jr., portrayed Doris Miller in his actions on December 7.

Mr. Speaker, every February our Nation celebrates Black History Month to recognize the contribution that African Americans have made to our country. This Black History Month, as we note accomplishments of African Americans, we take time to salute their military accomplishments as well. We honor