Saturday, March 15, 2008
At the beginning of the war, African Americans could join the Navy but could serve only as messmen. Doris ("Dorie") Miller joined the Navy and was in service on board the U.S.S. West Virginia during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Restricted to the position of messman, he received no gunnery training. But during the attack, at great personal risk, he manned the weapon of a fallen gunman and succeeded in hitting Japanese planes. He was awarded the Navy Cross, but only after persistent pressure from the black press.