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1941 - Dorie Miller
On December 7th, 1941 the Japanese made a surprise attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbour. The aim was to cripple the American navy and its war efforts.
The attack resulted in 2000 American servicemen losing their lives, along with the destruction of hundreds of planes and ships. The attack infuriated and shocked America which led President Franklin Roosevelt to comment “The day of this attack, December 7th, will live in infamy”.
A early heroes of the ensuing war, was Dorie Miller, a mess man then the only career open to African Americans if they wanted to serve in the navy. While the attack took place Miller saved his badly wounded captain whilst he was on the deck. Having secured his captain in a safe place, he manned a deck gun for which he had received no training bringing down four enemy airplanes and becoming an instant hero.
Miller action earned him the Navy Cross and he was promoted to mess man 1st class. Two years later he was killed in action when the aircraft carrier he was serving on USAS Liscome Bay fell victim to a Japanese submarine.