+
upworthy
Joy

During the attack on Pearl Harbor, this black sailor broke the rules to save lives.

Doris 'Dorie' Miller's story is legendary.

During the attack on Pearl Harbor, this black sailor broke the rules to save lives.

When the attack on Pearl Harbor began, Doris "Dorie" Miller was working laundry duty on the USS West Virginia.

He'd enlisted in the Navy at age 19 to explore life outside of Waco, Texas, and to make some extra money for his family. But the Navy was segregated at the time, so Miller, an African-American, and other sailors of color like him weren't allowed to serve in combat positions. Instead, they worked as cooks, stewards, cabin boys, and mess attendants. They received no weapons training and were prohibited from firing guns.


As the first torpedoes fell, Dorie Miller had an impossible choice: follow the rules or help defend the ship?

For Miller, the choice was obvious.

Pearl Harbor attack

USS West Virginia and USS Tennessee surrounded in smoke and flames following the surprise attack by Japanese forces.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archive and Records Administration.

First, he reportedly carried wounded sailors to safety, including his own captain. But there was more to be done.

In the heat of the aerial attack, Miller saw an abandoned Browning .50 caliber anti-aircraft machine gun on deck and immediately decided to fly in the face of segregation and military rules to help defend his ship and country.

Though he had no training, he manned the weapon and shot at the enemy aircraft until his gun ran out of ammunition, potentially downing as many as six Japanese planes. In the melee, even Miller himself didn't know his effort was successful.

"It wasn't hard," he said after the battle. "I just pulled the trigger and she worked fine. I had watched the others with these guns. I guess I fired her for about 15 minutes. I think I got one of those [Japanese] planes. They were diving pretty close to us."

attack on Pearl Harbor

A cartoon memorializing the attack on Pearl Harbor

Image courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Original newspaper reports heralded a hero "Negro messman" at Pearl Harbor, but no one knew who Miller was.

The Pittsburgh Courier, an African-American paper in wide circulation, sent a reporter to track down and identify the brave sailor, but it took months of digging to uncover the messman's identity.

Eventually, Miller was identified. He was called a hero by Americans of all stripes and colors. He appeared on radio shows and became a celebrity in his own right.

Pearl Harbor hero

Doris "Dorie" Miller.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Miller's heroism and bravery didn't go unnoticed in Washington, D.C., either.

In March 1942, Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, introduced a bill authorizing the president to present Miller with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Sen. James Mead introduced a similar measure in the Senate. While Miller did not receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, he became the first African-American sailor to receive the Navy Cross.

"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," said Pacific Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz following Miller's pinning ceremony.

Pearl Harbor hero U.S. Navy

Miller receiving the Navy Cross from Admiral Nimitz.

Courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Following a brief tour of the country, giving speeches and pushing war bonds, Miller returned to Navy life.

In May 1943, Miller reported for duty on the Liscome Bay, an escort carrier.

Pearl Harbor World War II

The USS Liscome Bay prepares for action.

assets.rebelmouse.io

On Nov. 24, during Operation Galvanic, a Japanese torpedo struck the Liscome Bay, sinking the ship. 644 men were presumed dead. 272 survived. Miller did not.

On Dec. 7, 1943, two years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Millers' parents received word of their son's death.

Doris "Dorie" Miller gave his life for a country that didn't always love him back.

Miller posthumously received a Purple Heart, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp, and the World War II Victory Medal. There is also a frigate and a neighborhood on the U.S. Naval Base in Pearl Harbor named in his honor.

Though his Navy Cross was never elevated to a Congressional Medal of Honor, as recently as 2014, the Congressional Black Caucus moved to waive the statute of limitations to make it possible.

Pearl Harbor hero

Dorie Miller

Image courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administrations.

While there are medals, movies, and statues celebrating Miller, it's important to remember and honor the man himself — a 22-year-old black sailor who set aside the rules to do what's right.Poet Gwendolyn Brooks wrote a poem from Miller's perspective, the conclusion of which perfectly captures the young hero's courage in the face of bigotry and uncertainty:Naturally, the important thing is, I helped to save them,them and a part of their democracy,Even if I had to kick their law into their teeth in order to do that for them.And I am feeling well and settled in myself because I believe it was a good job,Despite this possible horror: that they might prefer thePreservation of their law in all its sick dignity and their knivesTo the continuation of their creedAnd their lives.


This article originally appeared on 12.06.16

Education

12 books that people say are life-changing reads

Some books have the power to change how we see ourselves, the world, and each other.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Books are powerful.

As a participant in the Amazon Associates affiliate program, Upworthy may earn proceeds from items purchased that are linked to this article, at no additional cost to you.

Out of all human inventions, books might just be the greatest. That may be a bold statement in the face of computers, the internet and the international space station, but none of those things would be possible without books. The written recording of human knowledge has allowed our advancements in learning to be passed on through generations, not to mention the capturing of human creativity in the form of longform storytelling.

Books have the power to change our lives on a fundamental level, shift our thinking, influence our beliefs, put us in touch with our feelings and help us understand ourselves and one another better.

That's why we asked Upworthy's audience to share a book that changed their life. Thousands of responses later, we have a list of inspiring reads that rose to the top.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Things new parents think they need but don't.

There's nothing like preparing for a new baby. The excitement and anticipation take hold and before you know what's happening, your baby registry is five pages long full of things you've probably never heard of. I've been there before, and now, four kids later, I can tell you with absolute certainty that there are tons of things you actually don't need. It's easy to get carried away when everything is so tiny and cute, especially 'cause marketing around baby stuff is bananas. The following offers some alternative items to the ones you'll likely only use a limited number of times before practicality takes over.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Terrified, emaciated dog comes to life as volunteer sits with him for human connection

He tries making himself so small in the kennel until he realizes he's safe.

Terrified dog transforms after human sits with him.

There's something about dogs that makes people just want to cuddle them. They have some of the sweetest faces with big curious eyes that make them almost look cartoonish at times. But not all dogs get humans that want to snuggle up with them on cold nights; some dogs are neglected or abandoned. That's where animal shelters come in, and they work diligently to take care of any medical needs and find these animals loving homes.

Volunteers are essential to animal shelters running effectively to fill in the gaps employees may not have time for. Rocky Kanaka has been volunteering to sit with dogs to provide comfort. Recently he uploaded a video of an extremely emaciated Vizsla mix that was doing his best to make himself as small as possible in the corner of the kennel.

Kanaka immediately wanted to help him adjust so he would feel comfortable enough to eat and eventually get adopted. The dog appeared scared of his new location and had actually rubbed his nose raw from anxiety, but everything changed when Kanaka came along.

Keep ReadingShow less
Internet

Man breaks down how living in an all-inclusive resort is cheaper than his average apartment

"I just might find myself on a beach somewhere sucking down cocktails and WHAT OF IT."

Representative Image from Canva

Are resorts the new retirement homes?

Don’t know if you heard, but the cost of living is pretty high these days. Prices for groceries, restaurants, gas, and other necessary items just to, you know, live in the world, reaching an all time high is already making what used to be a decent wage barely enough to get by.

And let’s not forget the biggest financial whammy of all: rent prices. According to Zillow, the average rent price in the US was $1,958 ( recorded in January 2024). That a whopping 29.4% price jump since pre-pandemic times. And of course, that not even taking larger, more expensive cities into account.


It’s enough to make you wonder: “Is it actually cheaper to just live in an all-inclusive resort at this point?”
Keep ReadingShow less
Family

People kept telling me to watch 'Bluey.' I still was not prepared.

Some adults say it's healing their inner child, but there's something in the popular Australian kids' show for everyone.

"Bluey" is popular with all ages, despite being aimed at kids.

I have a confession to make. I'm 48 years old, my youngest child is in high school and I can't stop watching "Bluey."

For the uninitiated, "Bluey" is a kids' cartoon from Australia aimed at 5 to 7-year-olds. It's been nearly a decade since my household has seen that demographic, so when people kept telling me I should watch "Bluey," my reaction was basically, "Yeah, I've already done my kiddie show time, thankyouverymuch."

Then my almost-15-year-old started watching it just to see what the fuss was about. And as I started tuning in, I saw why people love it so much. I figured it was going to be a wholesome show with some good lessons for kids, and it is.

But it's also laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

Video shows 80 years of subtle sexism in 2 minutes

Subtle, persistent sexism over a lifetime is like water torture.

via HuffPo

Condescending sexism is persistently cliché.

Subtle, condescending sexist remarks such as "When are you going to have children?" and "You'd be so pretty, if you tried" are heard by women on a daily basis. Like water torture, what's subtle and persistent can become debilitating over a lifetime.

Making things more difficult is the contradicting nature of many sexist clichés that women are subjected to starting in childhood, such as "Is that all you're going to eat?" and "You eat a lot for a girl." Then there are the big-time, nuclear bomb sexist remarks such as "Don't be a slut" and "What were you wearing that night?" that are still shockingly common as well.

Keep ReadingShow less