Ships honor Burke and Miller from 2010 Distinguished Sailors issue
U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner
While I was a member of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) from 1998 to 2010, I had a hand in recommending the four individuals to be honored on the Distinguished Sailors issue of 2010 (Scott 4440-4443).
As a teenager with two Atlantic crossings under my belt, I wanted to be an officer in the United States Navy. But it was not to be because my eyesight was not up to the Navy’s standards. But I joined the U.S. Naval Institute, read World War II books galore and became an amateur naval historian.
The U.S. Department of the Navy ultimately picked those to be honored on the stamps, but CSAC strongly recommended that Mess Attendant 2nd Class Doris (“Dorie”) Miller (1919-43) and Adm. Arleigh A. Burke (1901-96) be included. Both had performed their duties in WWII in the highest traditions of the Navy.
Figure 1 shows the Distinguished Sailors block of four (Scott 4443a). In addition to Miller and Burke, the 44¢ stamps honor Lt. Cmdr. John C. McCloy (1876-1945) and Adm. William S. Sims (1858-1936).
Miller was assigned to the USS West Virginia at anchor in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. In brief, despite having no formal training, Miller manned an anti-aircraft gun, and when the attack was over, he attended to the wounded as best he could.
Miller was awarded the Navy Cross by Adm. Chester Nimitz, as can be seen in Figure 2.
This is not a story with a happy ending. Later in the war, Miller was one of 644 crew members of the USS Liscome Bay, an escort aircraft carrier, killed when it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on Nov. 24, 1943.
The ship sank only 23 minutes after the first torpedo sheared off almost the entire stern. Only 272 crew members survived.
The Navy named a destroyer escort after Miller. The USS Miller was commissioned in 1973 and served until 1991. The ship was later sold to Turkey.
In January 2020, it was announced that a future Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier would be named the USS Doris Miller. The start of construction is planned for 2026, with commissioning expected in 2032.
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