Hidden Heroes logo

Hidden Heroes: Dorie Miller and Mary Moss

Week 4 of the Lakewood MLK Committee’s Hidden Heroes campaign highlights national hero Dorie Miller and local hero Lakewood City Councilwoman and president and CEO of the Lakewood Multicultural Coalition Mary Moss.

Doris “Dorie” Miller

Doris Miller

A native of Waco, Tex., Dorie Miller worked on his family’s farm and played high school football before he joined the U.S. Navy. He was serving as a mess attendant in Hawaii during the attack on Pearl Harbor. While doing laundry below deck on the U.S.S. West Virgina, a torpedo struck his ship, damaging weaponry and injuring many.

Miller responded with heroic bravery, carrying many wounded to safety. After rescuing several servicemen, he manned a .50 caliber anti-aircraft gun for which he had no training and continued firing until he ran out of ammunition. For his acts of valor and patriotism, he became the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross. Miller was heavily publicized in the black press, making him an iconic emblem of the war for black Americans.

Miller was killed in action in 1943 when a torpedo sank his ship, the escort carrier Liscome Bay, in the Gilbert Islands. In 1973, the navy commissioned a frigate, the U.S.S. Miller, in his honor.

In January 2020 the U.S. Navy announced it planned to name a new aircraft carrier after Miller, noting it is the first aircraft carrier ever named after an African American and also the first-ever named for an enlisted sailor.

“Dorie Miller stood for everything that is good about our nation,” said Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly in a Jan. 20, 2020 speech. “His story deserves to be remembered and repeated wherever our people continue to stand the watch today. He is not the story of just one sailor. It is the story of our Navy, our nation and our ongoing struggle to form, in the words of the Constituion, ‘a more perfect union.'”

“Dorie Miller showed his country that he was capable of so much more. Read his story. Be inspired.” – “Greatness Under Fire” by Dante R. Brizill

(Source: Encyclopedia Britannica and the Jan. 20, 2020 speech of Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly.)

Mary Moss

Mary Moss

Mary Moss was elected to serve on the Lakewood City Council in November 2009. Since then, she has utilized her skills, talents and expertise in planning, budgeting and decision making as a launching point to help improve the lives of Lakewood residents by promoting public safety, economic development, education and collaboration. Moss started the Lakewood Multicultural Coalition in 2016 to support diversity and inclusion work in Lakewood.

Moss earned recognition in her role as community development consultant for Harborstone Credit Union, from which she retired after 36 years. She received the Pierce County Chapter of Credit Unions’ Lifetime Achievement Award and was chosen as a Woman of Influence by the Business Examiner. She also recently received the Thomas Bradley Distinguished Citizen award for her work in the community.

About Hidden Heroes

The city of Lakewood’s MLK Committee is excited to honor national and local pioneers in the African American community each week through the end of February. The committee invites recipients to share this with others and hope it sparks dialogue around the important role African Americans play in shaping our country and community. To learn about other Hidden Heroes, visit the Lakewood Pierce County Library and explore the Black History Month display, or find books, movies and more online anytime at www.piercecountylibrary.org. To receive the weekly emails request your email be added by contacting Lakewood Communications Manager Brynn Grimley, [email protected].