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DOD: Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper Remarks for the 2020 United States Naval Academy Commencement
And as officers you will have the opportunity to lead men and women of the highest caliber such as Mess Attendant Doris “Dorie” Miller, the namesake of the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier.
In 1942, Miller was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroic actions on the USS West Virginia during the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor.
On that fateful day, he raced to his battle station at the sound of alarms, only to find that it had been destroyed by a torpedo.
As he went on deck, he carried his fellow wounded sailors to safety and aided the mortally wounded Captain while under fire.
Then, he was assigned to another battle station, where he fired .50 caliber anti-aircraft machine guns at Japanese bombers for nearly fifteen minutes straight, until he exhausted his ammunition.
Miller was 22 years old at the time, with just over two years of service under his belt.
He had no formal training on the ship’s machine guns and only seconds of instruction from a young lieutenant.
But as the ship’s communications officer put it, he was “blazing away as though he had fired one all his life.”
Dorie Miller represents the type of American that you now have the privilege to lead.