admiral chester

Dorie Miller, War Hero

At 7:48 am on December 7, 1941, Japanese fighter planes and bombers began their surprise attack on the US Naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. In two waves of attack, the Japanese sunk 4 battleships, as well as damaged 4 more battleships, 3 cruisers, 3 destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and 1 minelayer, along with destroying 188 aircraft. The early morning attack also killed 2,403 Americans and injured another 1,178. The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, caused the United States to enter World War II.

African Americans supported the war effort. Although there were limited opportunities for them in the Armed Forces, 2.5 million black men registered for the draft and thousands of black women joined auxiliary units. African Americans generally served in segregated combat support groups with limited military engagement. On the homefront, African Americans supported the “Double-V” campaign, which meant victory against fascism abroad and victory against racism at home, in addition to supporting the March on Washington campaign in 1941, in an effort to demand equal employment in the defense industries.

“Above and beyond the call of duty” (NAID 513747)

As we remember the 75th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor, let’s not forget the heroic actions of Navy Messman Third Class Dorie Miller, who was born on October 12, 1919 in Waco, Texas. Miller joined the US Navy in 1939, and was made a mess attendant, then cook aboard the USS West Virginia. During the Pearl Harbor attack, Miller first ensured the safety of several crewmates, before he began firing at Japanese warplanes with a 50 caliber anti-aircraft gun. Miller shot down two Japanese aircraft (possibly downed two more) during the raid.  

“December 7th – Remember!!” (NAID 535613)

In RG 80 Correspondence Relating to Discrimination, 1941-1944 (National Archives Identifier 120920855) series, the file unit Dorie Miller (NAID 26416709) contains memorandums, letters, and newspaper coupons from the black community to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, encouraging him to admit Miller to the Naval Academy. As a messman, Miller was ineligible for military training, even though he was a hero in the Pearl Harbor attack. The letters and coupons from black newspapers to FDR received attention from the president and were forwarded to the Navy Department. However, Miller was too old to attend the Navy Academy. Only candidates for midshipmen between the ages of 17 and 21 were considered. Miller was 23-years-old.

Letter to FDR (NAID 26416709)

Coupons from black newspapers to FDR (NAID 26416709) [Published material found in this series may be subject to copyright restrictions. Researchers should contact the publisher for further information.]

Memo from the Navy Department (NAID 26416709)

Following Pearl Harbor, Miller received a Navy Cross from Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. He would later receive the Purple Heart, the American Defense Service Medal – Fleet Clasp, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. In the spring of 1943, he was assigned to the USS Liscome Bay (still at the rank of messman), when he was killed during a Japanese submarine attack on November 24, 1943 near the Gilbert Islands in the Pacific.

Image of Dorie Miller (NAID 26416709) [Published material found in this series may be subject to copyright restrictions. Researchers should contact the publisher for further information.]

Via 75th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor: Dorie Miller, War Hero | Rediscovering Black History, written by Dr. Tina L. Ligon, Supervisory Archivist at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland

Follow the National Archives this week, including our accounts at @usnatarchives, @fdrlibrary, @preservearchives, @congressarchives, @riversidearchives, and @ourpresidents, as we commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor with images, stories, and documents from our holdings.

Explore more resources and events on the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor from the National Archives »

German Family Names

The first European surnames seem to have arisen in northern Italy around 1000 AD, gradually spreading north into the Germanic lands and the rest of Europe. By 1500 the use of family names such as Schmidt (smith), Petersen (son of Peter), and Bäcker (baker) was common in the German-speaking regions and all across Europe. People trying to track down their family history owe gratitude to the Council of Trent (1563), which decreed that all Catholic parishes had to keep records of Baptisms. The Protestants soon joined in this practice, furthering the use of family names throughout Europe.

European Jews began the use of surnames relatively late, around the end of the 18th century. Officially, Jews in what is today Germany had to have a surname after 1808. Jewish registers in Württemberg are largely intact and go back to about 1750. The Austrian Empire required official family names for Jews in 1787. Jewish families often adopted surnames that reflected religious occupations such as Kantor (lower priest), Kohn/Kahn (priest), or Levi (name of the tribe of priests). Others were based on nicknames: Hirsch (deer), Eberstark (strong as a boar), or Hitzig (heated). Many took their name from the home town of their ancestors: Austerlitz, Berliner, Frankfurter, Heilbronner, etc. The name they received sometimes depended on how much a family could afford to pay. Wealthier familes received names that had a pleasant or prosperous sound (Goldstein = gold stone, Rosenthal = rose valley), while the less prosperous had to settle for less prestigious names based on a place (Schwab = Swabian), an occupation (Schneider = tailor), or a characteristic (Grün = green).

It’s often forgotten that some very famous Americans and Canadians were of Germanic background. To name a few: John Jacob Astor (millionaire), Claus Spreckels (sugar baron), Dwight D. Eisenhower (Eisenhauer, politician), Babe Ruth (baseball hero), Admiral Chester Nimitz (WW2 Pacific fleet commander), Oscar Hammerstein II (Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals), Thomas Nast (Santa Claus image + symbols for two US political parties), Max Berlitz (language schools), H.L. Mencken (journalist/writer), Henry Steinway (Steinweg, pianos), and former Canadian prime minister John Diefenbaker. Overall, Germans were the #1 immigrant group in the USA, followed by the Irish.

linkin park was such a huge band for me as a kid, my mom loved them and we always listened to their albums in the car. loved watching their sound and style change over the years and always really admired chester as a musician and creative person. really, truly sad to see this news today. he was a truly great talent we were lucky to have.

“ For Japan, the battle of Midway was indeed a tragic defeat. The Japanese Combined Fleet, placing its faith in ‘quality rather than quantity had long trained and prepared to defeat a numerically superior enemy. Yet at Midway, a stronger Japanese force went down to defeat before a weaker enemy.

… With Midway as the turning point, the fortunes of war appeared definitely to shift from our own to the Allied side. The defeat taught us many lessons and impelled our navy, for the first time since the outbreak of war, to indulge in critical self-examination.”

- Mitsuo Fuchida (led the air strike against Pearl Harbor, was aboard the aircraft carrier Akagi during the battle of Midway)


“ They had no right to win. And yet they did, and in doing so, they changed the course of a war.”

- Walter Lord, Author 


The Battle of Midway in the Pacific Theater of Operations was one of the most important naval battles of World War II. Between 4 and 7 June 1942, only six months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, and one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea, the United States Navy (USN), under Admirals Chester W. Nimitz, Frank Jack Fletcher, and Raymond A. Spruance decisively defeated an attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), under Admirals Isoroku Yamamoto, Chuichi Nagumo, and Nobutake Kondo on Midway Atoll, inflicting irreparable damage on the Japanese fleet. Military historian John Keegan called it “the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare.” It was Japan’s first naval defeat since the Battle of Shimonoseki Straits in 1863.

The Japanese battleship Yamato explodes as she sinks, after receiving massive torpedo and bomb damage from U.S. Navy carrier planes north of Okinawa, 7 April 1945. The original photo caption reads: “A split-second shot of Yamato as she blew up. A red ball of flame envelops this mightiest of Japanese battleships, and a moment later it shoots like a comet to the clouds, 2000 feet high.” Photographed from a USS Yorktown (CV-10) plane. Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN.

You are amazing.

Never let anyone or anything convince you otherwise.

pass it on for those who may have forgotten

Destroyer USS Evans DD-552 underway, 22 December 1943.

In the morning of 11 May 1945, Fletcher-class destroyer USS Evans and Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer USS Hugh W. Hadley were attacked by Japanese aircraft while on picket duty. The two “tin cans”, operating within supporting distance of each other, were attacked by an estimated number of 150 Japanese aircraft.

The two ships defended themselves for about an hour; then four Special Attack (”kamikaze”) aircraft struck USS Evans in quick succession, flooding her engineering spaces and started a fire on board. Her crew managed to put out the flames, and the Japanese attack ceased as nearby landing craft moved in to assist.

USS Evans was towed to Kerama Retto on 14 May 1945, and was then towed to San Francisco, where she was not repaired and was decommissioned. She was sold for scrap on 11 February 1947.

The two destroyers, in about 90 minutes of combat, destroyed a total of 42 Japanese aircraft. Both ships were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

“So long as the American people can build ships like the Evans and produce sons like the officers and men who man her, the country is secure.”

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.


On September 2, 1945, in a formal ceremony aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan, representatives of the Japanese government signed this Instrument of Surrender, officially ending World War II.

The original first page of this document will be on display from August 27 through September 3 at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

This is not the first time the document was displayed here. After the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was presented to President Truman at the White House on September 7, 1945, it was put on exhibit at the National Archives (and later formally accessioned into its holdings).

Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff, signed for Japan.

General Douglas MacArthur, Commander in the Southwest Pacific, signed for the United States and accepted the surrender in his capacity as the Supreme  Commander for the Allied Powers. Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz also signed for the United States.

Then representatives from eight other Allied nations signed, including the Republic of China, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. The ceremony took less than 30 minutes.


Pacific Ocean theater of World War II (1942-1945) 

The Pacific Ocean theater, during World War II, was a major theater of the war between the Allies and Japan. It was defined by the Allied powers’ Pacific Ocean Area command, which included most of the Pacific Ocean and its islands, while mainland Asia was excluded, as were the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Borneo, Australia, most of the Territory of New Guinea and the western part of the Solomon Islands.

It officially came into existence on March 30, 1942, when US Admiral Chester Nimitz was appointed Supreme Allied Commander Pacific Ocean Area. In the other major theatre in the Pacific region, known as the South West Pacific theatre, Allied forces were commanded by US General Douglas MacArthur. Both Nimitz and MacArthur were overseen by the US Joint Chiefs and the western Allies Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCoS).

Most Japanese forces in the theater were part of the Combined Fleet (聯合艦隊 Rengō Kantai) of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), which was responsible for all Japanese warships, naval aircraft and marine infantry infantry units. The Rengō Kantai was led by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, until he was killed in an attack by U.S. fighter planes in April 1943. Yamamoto was succeeded by Admiral Mineichi Koga (1943–44) and Admiral Soemu Toyoda (1944–45). The General Staff (参謀本部 Sanbō Honbu) of the Imperial Japanese Army was responsible for Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) ground and air units in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. The IJN and IJA did not formally utilize joint/combined staff at the operational level, and their command structures/geographical areas of operations overlapped each other and those of the Allies.

In the Pacific Ocean theater, Japanese forces fought primarily against the United States Navy and US Marine Corps. The United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and other Allied nations also contributed forces.

“Surrender of Japan, Tokyo Bay, 2 September 1945. Wallet card souvenir of the occasion, issued to Lieutenant Robert L. Balfour, USNR, a member of Admiral Halsey’s staff.

These cards were designed by Chief Shipfitter Donald G. Droddy and produced by USS Missouri’s print shop. One was issued to each man who was on board the ship on 2 September 1945, when the surrender of Japan was formalized on her decks. The cards contain the facsimile signatures of Captain Stuart S. Murray, ship’s Commanding Officer, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and Admiral William F. Halsey. Donation of Robert L. Balfour, 1974.”

(NHHC: NH 100856-KN)


Youngest M.O.H. recipient, PFC Jacklyn Harold Lucas (1928–2008) was a U.S. Marine who received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the Iwo Jima campaign for unhesitatingly hurling himself over his comrades upon one grenade and for pulling another one under himself.

Although only 14 years of age, having a muscular build, 5 ft 8 in tall and weighing 180 pounds, he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve without his mother’s consent on 6 August 1942. He gave his age as 17, and went to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina for recruit training.

During his rifle training, Pvt. Lucas qualified as a sharpshooter. He was next assigned to the Marine Barracks at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida. In June 1943, he was transferred to the 21st Replacement Battalion at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, and one month later he went to the 25th Replacement Battalion, where he successfully completed schooling which qualified him as a heavy machine gun crewman.

He left the continental United States on 4 November 1943, and the following month he joined the 6th Base Depot of the V Amphibious Corps at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He was advanced to private first class on 29 January 1944.

With statements to his buddies that he was going to join a combat organization, PFC Lucas walked out of camp on 10 January 1945, wearing a khaki uniform and carrying his dungarees and field shoes in a roll under his arm.

He was declared UA (Unauthorized Absence) when he failed to return that night and a month later, when there was still no sign of him, he was declared a “deserter”, and a reward was offered for his apprehension. He was also reduced to the rank of private at that time.

He stowed away on board USS Deuel which was transporting units of the 5th Marine Division into combat. He surrendered to the senior troop officer present on 8 February 1945 dressed in neat, clean dungarees. He was allowed to remain, and shortly after he was transferred to Headquarters Company, 5th Marine Division. He reached his 17th birthday while at sea, six days before the heroic actions at Iwo Jima, for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

On the day following the landing at Iwo Jima, he was creeping through a twisting ravine with three other men of his rifle team when the Japanese opened an attack on them. The men were in a trench when two enemy grenades landed nearby. Lucas pushed a thrown hand grenade into the volcanic ash and covered it with his rifle and his body. He reached out and pulled a second grenade beneath him. His companions had thought he died in the blast, so they left him, but he was amazingly still alive. Severely wounded in the right arm and wrist, right leg and thigh, and chest, Pvt. Lucas had undoubtedly saved his companions from serious injury and possible death.

He was evacuated to the hospital ship Samaritan, and then treated at various field hospitals prior to his arrival in San Francisco, California on 28 March 1945. He eventually underwent 21 surgeries. For the rest of his life, there remained about 200 pieces of metal, some the size of 22 caliber bullets, in Lucas’ body — which set off airport metal detectors.

The mark of desertion was removed from his record in August of that year while he was a patient at the U.S. Naval Hospital at Charleston, South Carolina. He was discharged from the Marine Corps Reserve because of disability resulting from his wounds on 18 September 1945, following his reappointment to the rank of Private First Class.

On 5 October 1945, Lucas and 14 other sailors and Marines (including Pappy Boyington) were presented the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman. In attendance at the ceremony were Lucas’ mother, Admiral Chester Nimitz, and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal.

Lucas receives his Medal of Honor Flag from CMC Gen. Hagee.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, PFC Lucas was awarded the Purple Heart; Presidential Unit Citation; American Campaign Medal; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one bronze star and the World War II Victory Medal.

He served in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division from 1961 to 1965 as a paratrooper to conquer his fear of heights and survived a training jump in which both of his parachutes did not open. When the keel of the USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) was laid, Lucas placed his Medal of Honor citation in the ship’s hull, where it remains sealed.

On 3 August 2006, Lucas, along with 15 living Marine Medal of Honor recipients, was presented the Medal of Honor flag by Commandant of the Marine Corps General Michael Hagee. The presentation took place at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. in front of over 1,000 people, including family, friends, and Marines. Lucas said of the ceremony, “To have these young men here in our presence — it just rejuvenates this old heart of mine. I love the Corps even more knowing that my country is defended by such fine young people.”

He died at a hospital in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on 5 June 2008 of leukemia with family and friends by his side. ~Wiki


USS Missouri arrives in Tokyo Bay for the Japanese Surrender, 9/2/1945

  • USS Missouri as It Enters Tokyo Bay for the Surrender Ceremony, 9/2/1945
  • Spectators and photographers pick vantage spots on the deck of the USS MISSOURI in Tokyo Bay, to witness the formal Japanese surrender proceedings., 9/2/1945 
  • Japanese surrender signatories arrive aboard the USS MISSOURI in Tokyo Bay to participate in surrender ceremonies., 9/2/1945
  • Deck Log of the USS Missouri, 9/2/1945
  • F4U’s and F6F’s fly in formation during surrender ceremonies; Tokyo, Japan. USS MISSOURI [in] left foreground., 9/2/1945

The battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) hosted the signing ceremony for the Japanese Surrender marking the end of World War II on September 2, 1945.  The accompanying ship’s deck log details the day’s events and the numerous prominent attendees, including Admiral Chester Nimitz, Admiral William Halsey, and General Douglas MacArthur.

The USS Missouri’s deck log can be transcribed in the National Archives Catalog: