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A Day of Infamy

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December 7, 1941
Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

This Pearl Harbor day got me thinking a bit about where I have come from and the legacy that was passed on to me.

Many of you know that I served in the U.S. Navy.  What you don’t know is that I served for four and a half years aboard the USS Miller (FF-1091).  The USS Miller was originally classified as a Destroyer Escort and was commissioned as DE-1091.  With classic military wisdom, she was re-classified as a Fast Frigate, FF-1091.  Being sailors, we inevitably replaced “Fast” with a different word, “F***ing”.  This is the same military “wisdom” that did away with the traditional “cracker jack” uniforms in the U.S. Navy before I enlisted and then brought them back when I was getting out – go figure.  So what does all of this have to do with the attacks on Pearl Harbor?

Mess Attendant Second Class Doris MillerThe USS Miller was named after Mess Attendant Second Class Doris (Dorie) Miller.

On December 7, 1941, Mess Attendant Second Class Doris Miller was collecting soiled laundry just before 8:00 A.M. When the first bombs blasted his ship at anchor in Pearl Harbor, Miller went to the main deck where he assisted in moving the mortally wounded captain.

He then raced to an unattended deck gun and fired at the attacking planes until forced to abandon ship. It was Miller’s first experience firing such a weapon because black sailors serving in the segregated steward’s branch of the navy were not given the gunnery training received by white sailors. Although news stories have credited Miller with downing from two to five airplanes, these accounts have never been verified and are almost certainly apocryphal. Miller himself told Navy officials he thought he hit one of the planes. Navy officials conferred the Navy Cross upon Miller on May 27, 1942, in a ceremony at Pearl Harbor. (http://www.dorismillermemorial.org/doris-story/)

We Remember - December 7, 1941

Dorie’s hometown of Waco, TX is in the process of creating a memorial and you can help by visiting http://www.dorismillermemorial.org

USS Miller (FF-1091) St. Thomas, USVI

I took this photo of the USS Miller (FF-1091) from the “liberty launch” when we were in port at St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.

Mark Lull - US Navy Boot Camp Graduation Photo
1975 Boot Camp Graduation Photo

My first cruise on the USS Miller was primarily a “show the flag” cruise throughout northern Europe with NATO’s Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT).  It was about as far from war as one could possibly get.

My final cruise aboard the Miller was intended to be an Indian Ocean cruise.  Iran had other ideas and the USS Miller was one of the first ships deployed to the Persian Gulf during the Iranian revolution.  It was tense as no one had any idea what Iran might do but nothing much happened during my time there.  The failed hostage rescue mission took place during that time but we were unaware of it as it was “need to know” only.

So the bottom line here is that the USS Miller is my direct connection to Pearl Harbor and I will always pause on December 7th for at least a moment to look back at the legacy of Dorie Miller.

Mark Lull, Technical Support
Mark Lull - Traverse PC Technical Support

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