As a mess attendant aboard the battleship USS West Virginia, stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Doris (Dorie) Miller’s job was to serve food to the white officers and clear away their dirty dishes.
But when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Miller manned a machine gun on deck and shot down four enemy planes.
After a campaign by newspapers and civil rights groups, he was finally publicly honored for his heroism and decorated with the Navy Cross, the highest honor awarded to a black serviceman in the war. After his heroism he was reassigned to his job as mess attendant.
On November 24, 1943, he was killed in the Pacific on a ship that was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine.