Dorie Miller Place

Doris “Dorie” Miller (1919 – 1943), was a World War II hero who shot down several enemy planes during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was the first African American recipient of the Navy Cross for valor.

Miller joined the US Navy on September 19, 1939, at age 19 and was assigned to the Messman Branch. At the time, African Americans were limited to positions on supply ships. The easy-going serviceman was described as an impressive 200 lbs., and over 6 feet tall. On December 7, 1941, he was assigned as a Mess Attendant aboard the ammunition supply ship Pyro anchored in Pearl Harbor. In the Japanese attack that day, the Pyro was struck by at least six torpedoes and two bombs. Miller, leaving his post, raced to his ship commander Captain Mervyn Bennion, who was mortally wounded. After helping move the captain to a safer place, Miller, in the midst of bombing and a flame-swept deck, proceeded to help pass ammunition to two machine gun positions. When one of the gunners was killed, Miller took over his position and he downed at least two Japanese planes and as many as six. Shortly after, he was ordered to leave the bridge as bombing and danger increased. Dorie Miler was awarded the Navy Cross by Admiral Chester W. Nmitz to become the first US Hero of WW II and the first African American to receive the Navy's highest award. Two years later, on November 24, 1943, Miller was among more than seven hundred crew members who died in the sinking of the USS Liscombe Bay, torpedoed by an enemy submarine. In his honor, the Navy named a Knox class frigate ship the USS Miller. In December 1953, the first of three hundred families moved into the six buildings of the Dorie Miller Housing Cooperative. 34th Avenue between 112th and 114th is known as Dorie Miller Place.


Gil Tauber, "NYC Honorary Street Names," accessed June 15, 2022,

VA History Office. (n.d.). Doris Miller - Above and beyond the call of duty. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.