PEARL HARBOR, HI (CBS News) – You’ve heard the roll call of American aircraft carriers: Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, almost all of them named for American presidents.
For the first time, an aircraft carrier will be named for an African-American.
The latest US aircraft carrier, the USS Doris Miller, is named after decorated African American World War II veteran Doris “Dorie” Miller.
Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly made the announcement Monday during a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, “His story deserves to be remembered and repeated wherever our people continue to stand the watch today.”
Miller defended Pearl Harbor in World War II during the 1941 attack. The segregated Navy Miller served in did not allow him to handle weapons.
The Navy says Miller manned an anti-aircraft machine gun he was never trained to operate on board the USS West Virginia. He kept firing until he ran out of bullets and was ordered to abandon ship.
“He was not given the same opportunities that men of a different color were given to serve his country, but on December 7th, 1941,” said Modly, “He would not be defined by the prejudices of other people.”
Miller’s biography says he believed he shot down a Japanese plane.