Today is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. December 7, 1941 was horrific, the amount of destruction to the United States unreal. We must remember it because it was an event that marked the moment that Americans united, and resolved to win against evil. For the heroes and survivors, it was a “day that lives in infamy.”
TODAY IN HISTORY: On December 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
— ABC News (@ABC) December 7, 2018
Dorie Miller, Mess Attendant 2nd Class
Dorie Miller was a mess attendant on December 7, 1941. It was the only MOS available to black servicemen in the US Navy at the time. His duties included swabbing the decks, shining officers’ shoes, and cooking. He was serving aboard the USS West Virginia. Suddenly, as Japanese planes poured out of the sky, and the ship came under attack, Dorie Miller sprang into action.
“Miller went topside, carried wounded on his shoulders, made several trips up and down, wading through waist-deep water, oil-slicked decks, struggling uphill on slick decks.” Navy Rear Adm. John Fuller
Then the former boxing champion and football star from Waco, Texas, manned the .50 machine gun. He was not trained on the use of a machine gun, yet “displayed expertise and skill in targeting the enemy,” according to the Department of Defense.
He was awarded the Navy Cross for his bravery in 1942. He was killed in the Battle of Makin in 1943 as he served aboard the USS Liscome Bay when it was hit by a Japanese torpedo and sunk.
Don Long, US Navy Retired
Retired Navy Commander Don Long. now 97, remembered Pearl Harbor vividly- he was anchored in a military seaplane out in the bay to run signal drills and maintenance checks. Within a few minutes, he heard the sound of airplanes. But it wasn’t until he saw the buildings blowing up and a nearby plane exploding that he realized they were under attack.
Then one of the planes targeted his own.
“The sequence of events during the next few minutes is not entirely clear.” Don Long
As the bullets sprayed around him, he couldn’t find the life jacket and bolted for the exit. The gas tank exploded and he hit the water through flames. He had to swim back through those flames, often swimming under the water to avoid them. When he finally flagged down one of the rescue boats, he was burned on his head, face, and arms. They said he looked bad.
“The attack was over, but much turmoil remained. That’s it — the start of the first day of a long war.” Don Long
Featured photo: US Navy