An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Commentaries : Display
NEWS | Dec. 1, 2015

Remember heroes of Pearl Harbor

By Joseph Gardner, command master chief JB Charleston

With Pearl Harbor Day approaching quickly, I want to remember the 2,403 Americans that paid the ultimate sacrifice that day. This day is particularly important to me because my grandfather was in Pearl Harbor during the attack and survived.  One of my best memories is taking him on a dependent cruise.  I still remember the enjoyment on his face upon getting underway and sailing for a short period of time. It brought back many memories for him and established a connection between us.  He thoroughly enjoyed talking to all the young Sailors onboard and sharing his "sea stories" with them. Returning to port and seeing everyone on the pier waiting, he stood a little taller, showing how proud he was to be called a "Sailor."

My first ship, USS Doris Miller, was named for a historic American who overcame adversity and was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ships Cook 3rd Class Doris Miller received his medal for saving the life of the commanding officer of the USS West Virginia by moving him to a safe location. Miller then manned a 50 caliber machine gun, shooting down at least one Japanese air plane. He also moved other injured Sailors to the quarterdeck area thus "saving the lives of numerous shipmates."   Some may think of the movie "Pearl Harbor" and the character played by Cuba Gooding, Jr. The movie focused on Miller being a boxing champion but, according to history books, he was more hero than boxer. Two years later, Miller was killed onboard USS Liscome Bay (CVE 56) during a torpedo attack. In addition to a US Navy ship, there have been numerous locations and buildings named in Miller's honor.

Because of their actions during the December 7th attack, there were 15 Medals of Honor, 51 Navy Crosses and 53 Silver Stars awarded as well as numerous other decorations for valor. There were also many who were not recognized but all were heroes. If asked, most would say,"I just did my duty" because no true hero actually considers themselves to be one. 

On this Pearl Harbor day, remember and thank those "heroes" for everything they did to preserve this great country.