A boy named Doris

DMThis struck me as kind of odd, but seems to fit within the larger story of Pearl Harbor, if you think of it. I’ve never looked into that day, but I know there is skepticism in our readership here, so that I hope to get some comments from people who have looked into it. What little WWII dabbling I have done was in the matter of Iwo Jima, where I came away with the distinct impression that it was a small incident that was by means of stagecraft made into a large one. (Why else would the Secretary of the Navy be on a beach in a combat zone, unless he knew he was safe? The photo of the flag raising that day, admitted by all to be staged (now it can be told), is nonetheless magnificent.

Thinking about it, how did people get information back in 1941? There was radio, newspapers, newsreels, some telephone (long distance was expensive), word of mouth*  … that’s about it. If a large hoax was to be pulled off, it could certainly be done given limited media to control at that time. I wonder if, as with the moon landings and 911, there was wide and unreported skepticism at the time.

Pearl Harbor happened on a Sunday at around 8AM Hawaii time, making it 2PM to 11AM our stateside time. It would then operate like a slow moving storm that picks up energy, so that by late in the day there was general fear, panic, outrage and confusion. A lot of men, like my Dad, probably thought “Oh boy, I’m gonna be drafted.” (He was. He lived to tell his story, never seeing combat. No one in my extended family was killed or injured in that war.)

I don’t know how much of the attack was real, what role the Japanese actually played, but it was surely suspicious in this sense: Hitler used the opportunity to declare war on the U.S. Otherwise, the there would have no call or legitimacy for the U.S. to enter the European theater. That makes little sense. Why would Hitler invite a new enemy?

Doris (born 10/12/1919) was a black man. Wiki says he was “Dorie” to friends and family. The story given us is that “… midwife the who assisted his mother was convinced the baby would be female.” [Footnote 8] A midwife names the baby instead of the mother and father? Even if so, you don’t just change it? His name being “Doris”  makes as much sense as Shel Silverstein’s A Boy Named Sue, as any kid really given such a name would just invent a nickname, like Bill, or George …

Here is Doris’s record of activities on December 7, 1941:

On December 7, 1941, Miller was a crewman aboard the West Virginia and awoke that morning at 6:00 am. After serving breakfast mess, he was collecting laundry when at 7:57 am, Lieutenant Commander Shigeharu Murata from the Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi[6] launched the first of nine torpedoes that would hit West Virginia. When the “Battle Stations” alarm went off, Miller headed for his battle station, an anti-aircraft battery magazine amidship, only to discover that a torpedo had destroyed it.

He went then to Times Square, a central spot where the fore to aft and port to starboard passageways crossed, and reported himself available for other duty.[6] Lieutenant Commander Doir C. Johnson, the ship’s communications officer, spotted Miller and, seeing the potential of his powerful build, ordered him to accompany him to the bridge to assist with moving the ship’s captain, Mervyn Bennion, who had a gaping wound in his abdomen, where he had apparently been hit by shrapnel. Miller and another sailor lifted the skipper and, unable to remove him from the bridge, carried him from his exposed position on the damaged bridge to a sheltered spot behind the conning tower.[9] The captain refused to leave his post, questioned his officers about the condition of the ship, and gave orders.

Lieutenant Frederic H. White ordered Miller to help him and Ensign Victor Delano load the unmanned #1 and #2 Browning .50 caliber anti-aircraft machine guns aft of the conning tower.[10] Miller was not familiar with the weapon, but White and Delano instructed him on how to operate it. Delano expected Miller to feed ammunition to one gun, but his attention was diverted, and when he looked again, Miller was firing one of the guns. White then loaded ammunition into both guns and assigned Miller the starboard gun.[6]

Miller fired the gun until he ran out of ammunition, when he was ordered by Lieutenant Claude V. Ricketts, along with Lieutenant White and Chief Signalman A.A. Siewart, to help carry the captain up to the navigation bridge out of the thick oily smoke generated by the many fires on and around the ship. Bennion was only partially conscious at this point and died soon afterward. Japanese aircraft eventually dropped two armor-piercing bombs through the deck of the battleship and launched five 18 in (460 mm) aircraft torpedoes into her port side. When the attack finally lessened, Miller helped move injured sailors through oil and water to the quarterdeck, thereby “unquestionably saving the lives of a number of people who might otherwise have been lost.”[11]

That’s quite brave, and I take nothing away from the man save the appearance of footnote “11”. Our old friend and writer Straight asserted that Wikipedia used footnote signals to point at lies, exaggeration, and misdirection. This article features prominent placement of both 8’s and 11’s.

AwardAt that point in time, Doris was “an unnamed negro,” and remained so until a Pittsburgh newspaper found and published his name. At this point, blacks around the country began to pressure the congressional Naval Affairs Committee to recognize not just Doris, but other blacks in military service. Doris was given the prestigious Navy Cross for gallantry during combat while shipboard and in the Pacific. It appears to me that the man in the photo the the right and the man in the poster above are one and the same man, though I have no way of verifying who this man is or his name.

Doris for a brief time came stateside and participated in a War Bond tour. He then returned to service, and was killed in action while serving aboard the USS Indianapolis on November 24 (=8), 1943, at the age of 24.

Nothing about this is suspicious except placement of ‘8’s and ’11’s’ in the Wikipedia entry, and the name Doris. So, since I am suspicious, I have to wonder why such a man would be constructed, given a female name, and then killed. I come up with this:

  • It is important in war to have heroes to help the home crowd believe in the war and the sacrifices made. Often men in battle do heroic things, but very little of “news” during wartime is true. Such tales as that of Doris Miller can made up out of whole cloth, and used to advance military and political careers (see St. John’s Warts), or to distract the public from the costs, defeats, and expenses of the war.
  • Often war heroes are made into poster boys in recruitment campaigns. The matter of Doris Miller has that odor about it, as a recruitment tool for blacks, who might otherwise not be interested in fighting and dying for a country that did not respect them.

Why, then, was Doris Miller killed? Better a dead hero than a live one who has to carry on the acting role for decades. Or this … the actor hired to be Doris wasn’t good for the part. They needed to get him out of their hair, and so retroactively placed him aboard a vessel that had real casualties. While not unusual in wartime, his parents were not informed that he was missing in action until, get this, December 7, 1943. He was declared dead on November 25, 1944. The real man in the photo lived on, that is, if Doris is fiction.

Of course, I could be wrong. If the man’s name was Jimmy or Mark or Nat, I would not have given this a second glance, just another war story. If indeed it is a real story of a real man, I offer my apologies to his family. He then died leaving no descendants.

Why a female name? I haven’t a clue. I am open to everything, including the whole affair, including the attack on Pearl, being real. That has to be listed among the range of possibilities. However, both Pearl and Doris have that feel about them. They do not smell right. Worse yet, I feel as though I am overlooking something painfully obvious. If it comes to me at all, it will be days from now, and at three in the morning.


*Also, letters, a lost art. My mother had six sisters. They used to keep in touch by letters, and each letter was included with others and sent along, so that every now and then Mom would get a packet with six or seven letters in it.

13 thoughts on “A boy named Doris

  1. Pearl Harbor, an epic from 2001 stars Cuba Gooding Jr. as Miller. Zal rule in effect.
    According to Google: “Since 1880, a total of 2,560 boys have been given the name Doris while 458,981 girls were named Doris.”
    My suspicion is the event, if anything like real, was embroidered with heroic details (Capt. dying ala’ Lord Nelson at Trafalgar, which inspired multiple heroic paintings) and an opportunity to recruit/set up black men to be legally killed was seized upon.
    Given Pearl Harbor’s initial torpedo attack lasted all of 11(!) minutes and was set up by the Sate Department with Roosevelt’s approval, Doris Miller could also be as fictional as Hitler.
    His performance as a hawker of war bonds may have been the reason he was “retired” as a character. Possibly couldn’t keep his story straight.

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    1. So in 1919 .006 (.6%) of men were named Doris. Surprised by that. It’s a Greek name, hard to imagine it being picked up by black sharecroppers (Wiki says “family farm” so it could be owned, but in 1919, half a century after emancipation and while Jim Crow was still going on, I have to guess sharecropper.) But still, .6% is .6%.

      I wonder now and will check later this evening if the name “Stanley” is not uncommon among girls.

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      1. According to babynamescience.com: 1 in 303,487 baby girls were given the name Stanley in 1967, if I read that right. As a girl’s name it peaked in 1927. The unisex fad today seems to have real resistance to it as a girl’s name. They like names like Morgan or Taylor, peerage last names though I doubt anyone would name their daughter Morgana. Too witchy and too gender specific (diminutive?) or something. The “ette” suffix is being dropped, too. IE, Georgette. Lynette.
        Running off the rails: Women used to be likened to sweets or a savories, like “She’s a real Tomato”, or, “You’re a tasty strudel.” Today only Bugs Bunny can use those “compliments”.

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        1. What about the actresses Glenn Close, Sean (forget her surname), Billy Piper etc? Do they chose men’s names deliberately to be noticed/unique or for some nefarious reason?
          As a side-note, half a dozen children born in S England and Wales were given the forenames Zeppelin/Zeppelina during WWI!
          Or are their parents idiots?

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        1. In “Bowery Bugs” he calls the maroon a “ta-ra-ra goon-de-ay”. My cousin Annette laughed at that one til the day she died.

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  2. Stanley Ann Dunham, Obama’s mother, was born in 1942. There is some confusion, maybe with her, as to being Stan or Ann. I have to think the Stanley was hung on her as a family name. Obama’s ancestry, if this stuff can be trusted, goes back to both an English and Scottish kings. Genealogy is confusing, and like being your own lawyer, is a mine field. So I don’t truck with the easy stuff, connecting names and all of that. There has to be due diligence, and I don’t see it anywhere except in a very few places. I suspect people of royal lineage have a choice, knowing or not, to embrace it or be left out of it, and if they embrace it envelopes of money and opportunity come their way. Maybe some are of too low intelligence or naive to be trusted, and so lead normal lives.

    I have never had an envelope of money come my way. That is what caught my eye with Carol Burnett … two envelopes appeared for her from sources she said were anonymous. There is evaluation and vetting going on behind the scenes in the star selection process. Unseen faces are making decisions. I don’t think it is like a mafia, more like a benevolent benefactor scheme, even with human dignity involved. These are not bad people. They are just apart from us.

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    1. Well… not sure about that word “bad”. Good and bad don’t really factor into the objectives of elites uber alles. I say this because my recent research, which I hope soon to publish, has the historical comp for Jesus being a Persian puppet king tasked with drawing messianic Jews out into the open with hope of Persian backing and then letting them get mowed down by this Prince of Peace’s Roman cousins, after which he absconds with the Persian treasury and holes up in Herodian territory with, wait for it, his wife/mother! Oy, gevalt!

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  3. Thinking about it, how did people get information back in 1941? There was radio, newspapers, newsreels, some telephone (long distance was expensive), word of mouth … that’s about it. If a large hoax was to be pulled off, it could certainly be done given limited media to control at that time. I wonder if, as with the moon landings and 911, there was wide and unreported skepticism at the time.*

    This line of thinking is music to my ears. Just how did the ‘news’ of Pearl Harbor spread across America? And how could any person at the time verify (or debunk) the claims being made? These questions apply to every element of the official narrative of WWII (and, for that matter, WWI).

    The story goes that people used to get their ‘news’ as part of the screenings of films at the local cinema. That is, Joe and Jane would attend the ‘pictures’ to see some film or another, and before the film, they would also get an update on the latest developments in the War with Eastasia (or Eurasia, depending on the time of the year).

    Indeed, this is where the term ‘newsreel’ is said to have come from:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newsreel

    According to that wikipedia article, one Charles Pathé pioneered these newsreels, and this comes as no surprise to me, because I have spent hours watching archival ‘war’ footage on the youtube channel of ‘British Pathe’.

    Which brings me to my next point: isn’t it strange that we refer to a ‘theatre’ of war?

    English is a funny language, sometimes the same word can have significantly different meanings. Sometimes, however, the difference in meaning is more subtle, and dependent entirely on context. Our great (great) grandparents got their news about the ‘theatre’ of ‘war’ at the local theatre…

    Look how easy it is to fool the lemming masses into believing that Crazy Kim is brandishing nuclear weapons today. This despite the video evidence available to anybody which, under even rudimentary analysis, is shown to reveal a comical circus act taking place under the guise of ‘war mongering’ in Pyongyang.

    Now ask yourself, if TPTB were to fake an entire ‘attack on pearl harbor’ in the 1940s, or indeed fake an entire stalemate on the ‘western front’ in the 1910s, how would the lemming masses be expected to see through the ruse?

    One final piece of trivia. According to relevant wikipedia page…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attack_on_Pearl_Harbor_in_popular_culture

    …one of the most popular ‘non fiction’ accounts of the Attack on Pearl Harbor, entitled ‘Day of Infamy’, was penned by a Walter Lord Jr, the same man who wrote ‘A Night To Remember’, about the so-called ‘Sinking of the Titanic’.

    Many readers of this blog will already be aware that the ‘Sinking of the Titanic’ was a complete hoax: nobody died, nobody got hurt, period.

    How interesting then that the man who helped to propagate the fictional narrative of one boat sinking in the Atlantic, would also have written a popular account of some other boats sinking in the Pacific…

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