Photos by Dave Ellrod
On Monday, May 27th, in La Jolla, the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial Board of Trustees honored United States Navy Sailor, Doris “Dorie” Miller, the first African American sailor to receive the Navy Cross.
Known as “Dorie” to shipmates and friends, Miller was serving upon the USS West Virginia (BB-48) when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He headed for his battle station, the anti aircraft battery magazine amidship, only to discover that torpedo damage had wrecked it, so he went on deck. Because of his physical prowess, he was assigned to carry wounded fellow Sailors to places of greater safety. Then an officer ordered him to the bridge to aid the mortally wounded Captain of the ship. He subsequently manned a .50 caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship.
In 1942, Miller received the Navy Cross, which Fleet Admiral (then Admiral) Chester W. Nimitz, the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet personally presented to Miller onboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) for his extraordinary courage in battle.
While serving on the newly constructed USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56) at 5:10 a.m. on November 24, 1944, a single torpedo from Japanese submarine I-175 struck the escort carrier near the stern. The aircraft bomb magazine detonated a few moments later, sinking the warship within minutes. Listed as missing following the loss of that escort carrier, Miller was officially presumed dead on November 25, 1944, a year and a day after the loss of Liscome Bay.
The Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial is the only memorial that honors veterans, living or deceased, from the Revolutionary War to the current war on terrorism, with an image of the veteran, on a black granite plaque.
The Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial Association owns and operates the memorial and its website is www.soledadmemorial.com.