A future Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier will be named in honor of Doris Miller, whose heroic actions during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 earned him the Navy Cross.
It marks the first time that a carrier has been named after an African-American. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly named CVN-81 after Miller in a ceremony at Pearl Harbor on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Miller was a mess attendant during a time of racial segregation that made him a servant to white officers. The sudden attack by the Japanese prompted him to spring into action, carrying wounded shipmates from the battleship West Virginia and then manning a .50-caliber machine gun to repel incoming planes. He only abandoned the ship after his ammo was gone and nearly everyone else was already off the vessel.
Miller died later in the war after a Japanese submarine sank a ship he was on. His heroism is legendary in the Navy, and he has been portrayed in major films, including “Tora! Tora! Tora!” in 1970 and “Midway” in 2019. He was portrayed by Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the 2001 Michael Bay movie, “Pearl Harbor.”
USS Doris Miller is scheduled to be laid down in 2023, launched in 2028, and commissioned in 2030.
It will be the second ship named after Miller, following the destroyer escort USS Miller (FF-1091), which was decommissioned in 1991.