BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — African Americans in Buffalo are celebrating the news that a new U.S. aircraft carrier will be named in honor of World War II hero Doris "Dorie" Miller.
Miller was a ship's cook on-board the USS West Virginia when it was attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941.
While not trained in using weapons, Miller was credited with aiding the mortally wounded commanding officer, helping evacuate injured sailors before the ship was abandoned, and firing an anti-aircraft machine gun before it ran out of ammunition.
The African American sailor was hailed a "hero" and awarded the Navy Cross medal.
While Miller survived the Pearl Harbor surprise attack, he later died in 1943 when the ship he was on, the USS Liscome Bay, was torpedoed and sank in the Gilbert Islands.
With the Navy's announcement of naming an aircraft carrier in Miller's honor, many African Americans are hoping it will encourage more focus on the contributions servicemen and women of color have made, and continue to make, to the country.
"Often, the work done by African Americans goes unpublished. So, I think this is a wonderful honor," said Kimberly Lewis from Buffalo.
"Dorie" Miller's story is also part of the inspiration for the African American Veterans Monument which is planned for the waterfront by the Buffalo Naval & Military Park.
Warren Galloway, chair for the project, said construction on the monument is planned for later in 2020.
When done, the monument will include 12 pillars with illuminated tops. It will also include thousands of "dog-tag" style bricks which will include the names of African American service members.
People can buy the bricks for $250 to remember an African American veteran. The money raised will help build and maintain the monument.