Texas native Doris Miller shoots back at Japanese attackers
On this day in 1941, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Texas native Doris Miller responded courageously to the assault. He was serving as a mess steward on the USS West Virginia. When the ship was attacked he went on deck and manned an unattended deck gun. 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 gunnery training. Although later news stories 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. The navy awarded him the Navy Cross for bravery in battle. He died on November 24, 1943, when his ship, the aircraft carrier Liscome Bay, was torpedoed and sunk.