world war ii: us navy

29 Days of February - 29 Photos of African Americans throughout Naval History. ‪#‎BlackHistoryMonth‬

Original Caption:
US Navy African-American Navy Cross-awarded gun crew: Jonell Copeland, Que Gant, Harold Clark Jr., James Eddie Dockery, Alonzo Alexander Swann, Eli Benjamin; circa 1945. (National Archives Photo # 80-G-334029)

Doris “Dorie” Miller was born in Waco, Texas in 1919. He was unable to finish high school, but helped around the family farm until just before his 20th birthday. He then enlisted with the Navy as a Messman, one of the few positions open to African-Americans.

On December 7th, 1941, Miller was a Messman Third Class serving on the USS West Virginia. He was a ship’s cook, with minimal combat training and no gunnery training, as the military was still segregated and African-Americans were not trained on the heavy guns.

When the bombs began dropping on Pearl Harbor, Miller ran to the deck of the ship and began assisting moving the wounded, including the captain of the ship. He then jumped on one of the anti-aircraft guns on deck and proceeded to try to shoot the Japanese planes down until ordered to abandon ship, at which point he continued to help move wounded soldiers from the ship.

Miller was hailed as the “Number One Hero” for African-Americans and considered one of the first American heroes of WWII. He was awarded the Navy Cross and after a massive community campaign, went on a war bond tour.

Miller returned to service on the Liscome Bay, where he died when the ship was lost at the battle of Makin Island.

Bonus: Admiral Nimitz, a native of Fredericksburg, Texas and CINCPAC during WWII, pinning the Navy Cross on Dorie Miller.

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Photos I took during an excursion into Arlington National Cemetery and Washington D.C. on Memorial Day. I wanted to visit and photograph each of the memorials as well as take time to reflect on the sacrifice the men and women of our armed forces have made throughout the years so that we may live free. It was a successful mission. I got some good shots and had the pleasure of meeting many fellow veterans while exchanging some stories.

Grace Hopper (1906-1992), sometimes referred to as ‘Amazing Grace’, was a computer scientist and an Admiral in the US Navy. In 1944, she invented the first compiler for a computer programming language.

She earned her master’s and PhD in mathematics from Yale, and began teaching at Vassar in 1931. She was part of the US Navy Reserve during World War II, all while working for the Harvard Computation Lab, where she was part of the Mark I computer programming project. She remained on active duty well beyond the retirement age, becoming the oldest active-duty officer in the history of the Navy, at 79 years of age.