After the at­tack

Newark Post - - LOCAL NEWS - USS Lis­come Bay,

Fol­low­ing the at­tack, Brizill said, the mil­i­tary didn’t want to draw at­ten­tion to Miller’s hero­ism.

“At first, the Navy kind of kept his story quiet, but enough peo­ple had wit­nessed his courage to talk about it,” he said. “It spread by word of mouth that this black cook on the ship did some heroic deeds.”

Ac­cord­ing to Brizill, the Sec­re­tary of the Navy was sat­is­fied with giv­ing Miller a con­grat­u­la­tory let­ter, but The Pitts­burgh Courier, an in­flu­en­tial African-Amer­i­can pa­per, and the NAACP ad­vo­cated for Miller to be pub­licly rec­og­nized.

Miller be­came the first African-Amer­i­can to be awarded the Navy Cross, the sec­ond high­est award U.S. Navy per­son­nel can earn, fol­low­ing the Con­gres­sional Medal of Honor.

Ac­cord­ing to Brizill, many peo­ple then and to­day be­lieve Miller should have re­ceived the Medal of Honor. How­ever, ef­forts to award Miller the na­tion’s high­est mil­i­tar y honor were de­nied.

It was also com­mon for war he­roes to go on tour and raise bonds for the war. But un­like his white coun­ter­parts, Miller was not al­lowed to do so ini­tially, Brizill said.

Again, the Courier news­pa­per stepped in and ad­vo­cated for Miller to be able to go on tour, which he was even­tu­ally granted per­mis­sion to do.

After he re­turned from his tour, Miller was sta­tioned on the an es­cort car­rier. Ja­panese forces sunk the ship, killing over 600 sailors, in­clud­ing Miller, Brizill said.

Brizill said Miller’s ex­clu­sion from many pub­li­ca­tions was due in part to Miller’s race, while an­other part was the fact that he lived a short life, hav­ing died two years after the Pearl Har­bor at­tack.

“He didn’t re­ally get an op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote him­self, to tell his story like you see in these doc­u­men­taries on World War II of peo­ple who are able to be there front and cen­ter,” Brizill said.

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