WASHINGTON (June 17, 2014) The U.S. House Tuesday approved a bill introduced in March by U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan that would rename the Waco VA Medical Center in honor of World War II hero Doris Miller.
Miller, who was born on Oct. 12, 1919 in Waco, was serving as a mess attendant on the USS West Virginia when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
He ended up manning a 50 cal. machine gun, which he had not been trained to operate, but kept up a steady stream of anti-aircraft fire until ordered to abandon ship.
He was the first African-American to receive the Navy Cross, the Navy’s third-highest decoration for valor.
“By naming the Waco VA Medical Center after local hero, Dorie Miller, we will preserve the memory of his outstanding heroism for years to come,” Flores said Tuesday
“The tremendous courage and bravery he showed during the attack on Pearl Harbor is worthy of having the medical center carry his name. This bill not only pays tribute to Dorie Miller’s service and sacrifice but also to that of all Central Texas veterans,” he said.
The bill has support of the state’s Republican U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, Flores said.
Miller died in action in November 1943.
Supporters continue to argue he should be awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor, something they say he was denied because he was black.
Since 2010, the Cultural Arts of Waco has been spearheading a memorial for Miller that costs an estimated $1.3 million dollars.
Right now, only $300,000 has been raised for the memorial, which would be on the bank of the Brazos adjacent to the Washington Avenue Bridge.
Early renderings depict a memorial shaped as the hull of a battleship, with information about Miller’s upbringing in Waco, along with a bronze statue of Miller at its center.
The Cultural Arts of Waco hopes to dedicate the memorial on Dec. 7, 2016.