By Ivan Pereira
World War II hero Doris “Dorie” Miller has been honored by the military, Hollywood and the city that named a Corona co-op after him.
Now the black sailor’s memory will live on in another way since the U.S. Postal Service featured him on a stamp as part of its “Distinguished Sailor Series” that went on sale last month.
Dozens of tenants, historians and leaders gathered at the co-op’s meting hall, at 34th Avenue, Saturday to catch a glimpse of the 44-cent image that not only shows a photo of Miller but also the crest of the U.S. Navy destroyer escort that bears his name.
Clark Simmons, Miller’s naval classmate, was one of the people on hand for the ceremony and said the stamp was fitting for his friend, who risked his life to save several comrades on Dec. 7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.
“He was a big man but a gentle giant,” he recalled.
Miller, who grew up in Texas, was a mess attendant on the battleship USS West Virginia when it was bombed by Japanese fighters. He ran to the ship’s anti-aircraft guns and shot down several enemy fighters before he was ordered to abandon the bridge.
Miller’s bravery earned him a Navy Cross and he was revered by both military personnel and civilians for years. His actions were dramatized in several movies, including “Tora! Tora! Tora!” (1970) and most recently “Pearl Harbor” (2001).
Borough President Helen Marshall said she was mesmerized by Miller’s actions not only because they were so brave but also because back then heroic acts by minorities were not featured in the news too often.
“In those days, it was tough for an African American to get into the Navy,” she said.
Miller was killed in action at the age of 24 when the USS Liscome Bay was attacked Nov. 24, 1943 and he was awarded a Purple Heart posthumously.
Over the last few years, the co-op’s board of directors and its Cooperators Council and Stamp Committee worked to get Miller on the USPS’s Distinguished Sailor Series. After much activism from the community, the USPS approved the stamp proposal Feb. 4 and the state Legislature passed a resolution a few days later to honor Miller’s acts.
Carolyn Carter-Kennedy, chairwoman of the Dorie Miller Stamp Committee, said she and her group were honored so many elected officials supported their efforts.
“It takes strong leadership to support us and lead us,” she said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.