"NO MORE DELAYS!"
Tiger Davis, interviewed by Victoria Turrentine
WHEREAS, Doris Miller, known as "Dorie" to shipmates and friends, was born in Waco, Texas, on 12 October 1919, to Henrietta and Conery Miller; and
WHEREAS, following training at the Naval Training Station, Norfolk, Virginia, Miller was assigned to the ammunition ship USS Pyro (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; and
WHEREAS, in July 1940 he had temporary duty aboard USS Nevada (BB-36) at Secondary Battery Gunnery School and returned to USS West Virginia and on 3 August, and was serving in that battleship when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941; and
WHEREAS, Miller had arisen at 6 a.m., and was collecting laundry when the alarm for general quarters sounded; and
WHEREAS, during the attack, Japanese aircraft dropped two armored piercing bombs through the deck of the battleship and launched five 18-inch aircraft torpedoes into her port side; and
WHEREAS, he headed for his battle station, the antiaircraft battery magazine amidship, only to discover that torpedo damage had wrecked it, so he went on deck; and
WHEREAS, 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; and
WHEREAS, he subsequently manned a 50 caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun until he ran out of ammunition and was ordered to abandon ship, reportedly shooting down three enemy aircrafts. Miller described firing the machine gun during the battle, a weapon which he had not been trained to operate: "It wasn't hard. I just pulled the trigger and she worked fine. I had watched the others with these guns. I guess I fired her for about fifteen minutes. I think I got one of those Jap (Japanese) planes. They were diving pretty close to us"; and
WHEREAS, Miller was commended by the Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox on 1 April 1942; and
WHEREAS, on 27 May 1942 he was presented the Navy Cross, by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet onboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) for his extraordinary courage in battle. Speaking of Miller, Nimitz remarked: "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."
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP encourages the Congress to initiate a thorough review of the facts supporting the heroic feats of Doris Miller at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 to determine if legislation should be enacted that will allow a Medal of Honor to be awarded despite the fact that the statutory time limit has been exceeded; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP supports the awarding of the Medal of Honor to Doris Miller, whose extraordinary action at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, showed tremendous disregard for self and were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service, and reflected the utmost credit on him, his family and the United States Navy; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP supports and encourages all people to write and call their congressional representative seeking their support for Doris Miller to be awarded the Medal of Honor; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP encourages all people to write and call the President of the United States seeking his support for Doris Miller to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson representing the 30th district of Texas, once again introduced legislation on January 18, 2007, to the 110th Congress— H. R. 566—designed to honor Doris Miller , our brother and comrade of World War II. Since she was a child Congresswoman Johnson has embraced the effort to honor her hometown hero with the Medal of Honor for his heroism at Pearl Harbor. Like Dorie Miller, Con- gresswoman Johnson is a native of Waco, T exas. She recalls her father taking her to meet Miller when he briefly returned to his hometown during a fur- lough following the fateful events at Pearl Harbor.
Six decades have passed since Dorie Miller’s daring exploits aboard the battle-
ship USS W est Virginia, which was docked at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, catapulted him from a lowly Mess Attendant to the lofty status of a national hero and an icon to generations of Afri- can Americans. Yet Miller never received the nation’s highest honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor. Congresswoman Johnson’s bill would waive the time limitation specified in current law for the awarding of military decorations in order to allow the posthumous award of the Congressional Medal of Honor to Doris Miller for his heroic actions during World War II. In fact, no African American who served in World War II received the Congressional Medal of Honor until seven Army veterans were given the award in 1997,” said Congress- woman Johnson. “I am requesting the Armed Services Committee to expedite its passage of the bill honoring Doris Miller, who is quintessential great American hero”.
The Medal of Honor is the nation's highest military award for bravery. It is awarded by the President in the name of Congress. For this reason, it is often referred to as the Congressional Medal of Honor. Since it was first awarded in 1863, 3,409 individuals have been awarded this medal. Nineteen individuals have been double recipients of the award. Recipients of the Medal of Honor are afforded a number of benefits as a result of this award. On a number of occasions, legislation has been offered to waive certain restrictions and to encourage the President to award the Medal of Honor to particular individuals. Generally speaking, this type of legislation is rarely en- acted. In a very limited number of cases, the medal has been awarded outside the legal restrictions concerning time limits.
In their provisions for judging whether a man is entitled to the Medal of Honor, each of the armed services has set up regulations which permit no margin of doubt or error. The deed of the person must be proved by incontestable evidence of at least two eyewitnesses; it must be so outstanding that it clearly distinguishes his gallantry beyond the call of duty from lesser forms of bravery; it must involve the risk of his life; and it must be of the type of deed which, if he had not done it, would not subject him to any justified criticism. In 1918, during U.S. participation in World War I, Congress decided to clear away any inconsistencies of the legislation which had grown around the Army medal and make a set of perfectly clear rules for its award.
Honorable Joseph J. DioGuardi
With great anticipation, black veterans from across America descended on Washington to attend the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Brain Trust (CBCVBT). Mororrco, from Atlanta, Tom Harris from Indianapolis, Robert Blackwell, Dallas, Dwight Lassiter, Harrisburg and a host of other Vietnam and Vietnam Era Veterans gathered for the 30th Anniversary of the Veterans Brain Trust on September 14, 2018. It was a reunion that all had become comfortable with and everyone looked forward to the next year.
Out of no where came this former Congressman, Joe J. DioGuardi, who extolled the heroism and gallantry of Doris “Dorie” Miller who had distinguished himself at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Miller was well known to all in the African American community and most had accepted the reality that the United States Navy would prevail in its objection to the Medal of Honor for Seaman Miller.
During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Miler was assigned to the USS West Virginia as a mess steward – which was all the US Navy would permit for black sailors. Miller moved bravely to the main deck to assist moving the wounded captain to a safe place to receive medical attention. He then manned an abandoned 50mm machine gun and began to lay down a wall of fire against the dive-bombing Japanese planes. Some accounts say he shot down four to five enemy aircraft. For certain, he exposed himself to death by going below and ferrying several wounded sailors from the burning water and oil below deck.
For his extraordinary bravery, he was awarded the Navy Cross by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on May 27, 1942. Sent back to sea after promoting the sale of war bonds, Miller was killed when his vessel, the Liscome, was torpedoed and sunk near the Gilbert Islands.
Mr. DioGuardi, the gentleman from Westchester, opened his panel discussion and immediately captured the attention, hearts and minds of all attendees as he insisted that Mr. Miller be awarded the Medal of Honor. DioGuardi had begun his quest after being engaged with Dr. Leroy L. Ramsey, a NY educator who had dedicated his life to Civil Rights and the recognition of African American war heroes. Noting that 549 Medals were rendered for service during WWI and WWII but none were received by people of the darker hue who numbered more than a million and a half, DioGuardi was convinced something had to be done. In Congress, he found an ally in Mickey Leland, a representative from Houston Texas in 1986. Mr. Leland perished in an aircraft crash while providing food and necessaries to Ethiopians in 1989.
Compelled by the loss of his friend and the vast knowledge received from Dr. Ramsey, DioGuardi has spent more than thirty years of unyielding advocacy for Dorie Miller. Impressed by DioGuardi, several of the participants discussed the need to join his “Crusade” but most were too busy advocating for homeless veterans, eradicating disparities, and other life serving issues for veterans and in particular, black veterans.
When Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who sponsored legislation every year for Miller to be awarded the Medal of Honor, announced she would not run again, Harris began discussing a tribute and Clarence “Tiger” Davis suggested picking up the mantle for her quest to secure proper recognition for Mr. Miller – a friend of her father. As Davis recalls, his first thought was to make contact with Mr. DioGuardi who had reignited his attention to the heroism of Miller. He then contacted Joseph Greene-Bishop, Ron Tarburton and others to form a national committee to pursue the Medal of Honor for Doris “Dorie” Miller.
Mr. Joseph J. DioGuardi, the former Republican Congressman, from New York had maintained the legacy and inspired others to step up to the plate. For more than thirty years, his life and resources fueled the mission. The “Gentleman from Westchester” and his mission gives us hope that the racial excesses of the past will be repudiated, corrected and America will move towards a more perfect union.