I ran across this story of a “Negro” mess attendant by the name of Doris Miller. Besides being noticeably Black, “Dorie” as known to his shipmates and friends more importantly is an American hero.
In 1939, Miller who enlisted in the U.S Navy as Mess Attendant, Third Class was later commended by Secretary of the Navy, advanced to Mess Attendant, Second Class and First Class, and was eventually promoted to Cook, Third Class.
Navy History and Heritage Command (excerpt)
Following training at the Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia, Miller was assigned to the ammunition ship USSPyro (AE-1) where he served as a Mess Attendant, and on 2 January 1940 was transferred to USS West Virginia(BB-48), where he became the ship’s heavyweight boxing champion. In July of that year he had temporary duty aboard USS Nevada (BB-36) at Secondary Battery Gunnery School…
Miller was serving on the USS West Virginia(BB-48) on the morning of December 7, 1941.
TheBlaze by Aaron Colen
Answering the call at Pearl Harbor
…At about 7:57 a.m on Dec. 7, 1941, a torpedo hit the West Virginia. It would be only the first of nine Japanese torpedoes to hit the ship. Miller rushed to his battle station, an anti-aircraft battery magazine, but it had been destroyed.
Miller made his way to a central part of the ship and was tasked with transporting the captain, who had been badly injured by shrapnel, to safety. As the ship’s boxing champion standing at 6-foot 3-inches and nearly 200 pounds, Miller was considered an ideal person to carry the wounded to safety.
Once the captain was safe, Miller was ordered to load one of the .50 caliber anti-aircraft guns still intact on the ship. Miller complied, but he didn’t stop there. Despite having no training on the gun, Miller stepped up in the heat of battle and manned the gun, firing on Japanese aircraft until he was out of ammunition[…]