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Topic: One thing i have always wondered about., Re: doris miller< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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studentdriver Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 25 2005,11:26  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Dear all,

Ever since I saw Tora cubed the second time, that is, after I had to actually man a fifty caliber machine gun, I looked at the depiction on screen and asked myself "What the foop is this guy thinking?" That thing is a young artillery piece and with that kind of elevation you can reach out and touch someone three or four miles away with a huge chunk of high velocity lead that can spoil your entire morning. The movie is showing a clear field of fire, but I am always skeptical about movies, so I checked.

He was on the West Virginia, and had been helping on the bridge where the captain had been mortally wounded. The West Virginia had taken several torpedo hits and had developed a pronounced list to port. The only thing I can find in the after action reports about a machine gun is the report of a Reserve j.g. named White "D. Miller, Matt.2c. and I manned #1 and #2 machine gun forward of the conning tower".

Anybody here know where those machine guns were located, exactly? Presuming that they were port and starboard with equal fields of fire to either forward quarter, we have a problem. The portside fifty has its field of fire blocked by the Tennessee directly alongside. The Arizona is completely engulfed by this point and is sending up so much smoke it would be tough to see anything forward. This leaves us with the starboard side gun, but please do not tell me that a Reserve j.g., even in a crisis, would put a completely untrained man on a fifty caliber machine gun with CINCPAC HQ in his field of fire less than a mile away. In my experience, only Ensigns are allowed to be that stupid.

So what exactly was he shooting at for fifteen minutes? What is going on here?

Best Wishes,

Paul Croshier,
Former jarhead.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 26 2005,5:49 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hi Paul,
  One of the best books I have ever read was "Titanic As told by the survivors."  the movies were no where close to the reality of what The survivos told. It is the same with the Pearl Harbor movies. Movies are for entertainment and not very reliable when it comes to the actual truth of what happened.
  On this site Listed under The Battleship section and the Tennesse- West Virginia sub-section you will find a beautiul biography of Dori Miller and how he received the Navy Cross for his actions that horrible day and the last I heard they are not given for stupid reasons.
  While I have not been on a battleship that received 9 torpido hits and was sinking,with bombs dropping everywhere, straffed by machine guns or have to stand by and watch my captain slowly die with his intestines hanging out. Not to mention the stench from blood and burning flesh and fires.everywhere.Under those circumstances I would probably find the biggest gun I could and fire back too. just to ease the tension and frustration.
  I can tell you that trauma brings out the best or worst in people and people react differently to major stress, it is an individidual coping mechinism. No way is right or wrong it is just the persons way of coping.
  While I don't expect the same behavior out of a two year old as I do a 10 year old  some mighty fine Ensigns out did themselves during the attack on Pearl Harbor, my two favorite stories are of the destroyer Blue who was put to sea under the direction of Ensign Nathan Asher and three other Ensigns. It was 4 days before the Captain caught up with her. the second is Ensign Stanley Caplan who got the Destroyer Alwin out of the harbor and into open waters all the time the men left on their burning ships cheering them on. Pretty good for stupid Ensigns as you call them.
  My sugustion would be for you to spend some time on this site and find out what really happened. The movies don't come close and you have not even scratched the surface of material on the subject.
  In this day and time it is to easy to sit back and Monday morning quaterback the game. This is one time you will have to work to find the truth but it is out there if you will look for it.

Cheers,
Stepany Henson

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    Never forget what happened that horrible day and pass it forward.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 26 2005,2:53 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Take a look at the following link to the West Virginia Battle reports from 12/7/41 to really get a sense of the battle.

Mike

West Virginia battle reports
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PostIcon Posted on: May 26 2005,7:54 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Gee Guys,
I thought SOMEONE would look at the lengthy biography of Doris Miller and his day...guess I have to tell you to do a search on this site and all you seek is there...including my interviews of Delano and White...those who were on the scene with Miller.

"Doris Miller and his Navy Cross"

Edited by David Aiken on --

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David Aiken, a Director
Pearl Harbor History Associates, Inc.

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http://www.pearlharbor-history.org/
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PostIcon Posted on: May 28 2005,8:00 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Dear all,

Thank you all for not pointing out the fact that I had looked at "the picture" and confused the orientation completely ... clearly the Arizona is dead astern of the West Virginia. Most Navy folk of my acquaintance are more than happy to point out that it not just the eagle, globe, and anchor, but the eagle, globe and fouled anchor, and a good reason why they won't let us drive their boats, along with our somewhat casual attitude towards Article 99.

I would also like to apologize if I gave the impression that I was casting any aspersions on the heroism of Ensigns, or their Marine equivalents, Second Lieutenants. Quite the opposite is true, and is in large part how they are clueless. The object of a military exercise is the accomplishment of the mission, not the presentation of the heartfelt thanks of a grateful nation and a carefully folded flag to their grieving widows. Their wives would rather have them back in one piece, thank you very much, and it has been the duty of Navy Chiefs and Marine Staff NCO's to see that they do since time immemorial.

Mr. Aiken, I did "take a look" at your excellent article on Doris Miller. The fault was mine for charging in and raising questions before I even knew how to navigate the site.

That said, I am glad that most participants in the actual battle did not agree with the statement "Under those circumstances I would probably find the biggest gun I could and fire back too. just to ease the tension and frustration." Easing tension is a fine thing, but tension might well have been increased dramatically in places like the Naval Magazine in West Loch, Hickam Field and Kamehameha Reservation with a tenth pound of lead spattering their neighborhood at lethal velocity. I was happy to know that the intention was to have Seaman Miller just load. I am still curious about how many casualties that day were due to friendly fire ... I hardly think that the case of Doris Miller was that isolated, but now that I have better information, I think I can confidently state that the famous spent bullet that Hub Kimmel picked up wasn't from Doris Miller's .50 cal.

There were some other things that didn't make sense to me, though. I spent some time on this site, learning to navigate it and read all of the Medal of Honor Citations. Quite frankly they looked strange too, at least some of them. Without casting any aspersions on his undoubted heroism, there is simply no way any commander would have recommended Chief Finn for the Medal had he done the same thing a year later.

Rather than embarrass myself again, I did some research. Mr. Aiken, I quote your article on Doris Miller:"...the next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved the Navy Cross, the Navy's highest medal, for Miller. This was presented on May 27 aboard USS Enterprise by Admiral Chester Nimitz." Aside from the fact that the Medal has been the highest award in the Navy since Lincoln authorized it on December 21, 1861, it wasn't even the second-highest award ... that was still the Navy Distinguished Service Medal until August of 1942. As hard as it is for modern ears to understand, the Navy Cross was the lowest award available until later in the war.

I took the following from the website of VPB-102 ... I am fairly sure it is not original to them, but I am not going make dircet quotes without attribution. It is, however, a fair summation of the problem:

The Navy Cross was created by an Act of Congress on 4 February 1919. The original wording of the Act, which was established by Public Law 253, outlined the requirements for award of the Navy Cross as "…extraordinary heroism or distinguished service in the line of his profession, such heroism or distinguished service not being sufficient to justify a Medal of Honor or Distinguished Service Medal." This wording of the law created a problem for commanders in that the same law restricted award of the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) to meritorious service to the Government in a duty of great responsibility. By its wording the law seemed to indicate that the Navy Cross was inferior, in order of precedence, to the Distinguished Service Medal. However, only the Navy Cross could be awarded for combat heroism. This confusion was cleared up by Public Law 702 on 7 August 1942. This Act of Congress restricted the Navy Cross to combat heroism and placed it above the Navy DSM in precedence."

The Navy Cross and the Medal were not at that time reserved for action in combat, although they could be. Dan Daly got one for " The Navy Cross is awarded to First Sergeant Daniel Joseph Daly, United States Marine Corps. Sergeant Daly repeatedly performed deeds of heroism and great service on June 5, 1918. At the risk of his life he extinguished a fire in an ammunition dump at Lucy la Bocage. On June 7, 1918, while his position was under violent bombardment, he visited all the gun crews of his company, then posted over a wide portion of the front to cheer his men. On June 10, 1918, he attacked an enemy machine-gun emplacement unassisted and captured it by use of hand grenades and his automatic pistol. On the same day, during the German attack on Bouresche, he brought in wounded under fire." I think that certainly qualified him for one. I think they didn't give him the Medal for those actions because he already had two. But to give some context to how broad a range of activities the Navy Cross was awarded for, let me cite another one: "The Navy Cross is awarded to Stephen J. Chamberlain, Major,  United States Army, for distinguished service in the line of his profession as Dispatch Officer at the Port of Embarkation, Hoboken, N.J."

Four Medals and forty-six Navy Crosses were awarded for the rescue of the Squalus crewmen in May 1939. Since they were the only two awards for which a Navy enlisted man was eligible (the "great responsibility" clause in the Navy DSM ruled out its distribution to anyone but officers) the lobbying by the Pittsburg Courier and the NAACP look more understandable. Should you at some time do a revision on your article, Mr. Aiken, you might make that clearer.

Best Wishes,

Paul Croshier,
Former jarhead.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 29 2005,3:11 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hi Paul,
  While we pass the olive branch back and forth. I too should have not made the statement a first person responce instead of stating I could understand his actions.
  I had a lot of the same questions you have, which the fine folks here have helped to answer.
Roger Hare, wrote a great atricle on the battle of Honolulu. and if I can put the link in like the big boys we are in like flint.

http://www.cinemenium.com/pearlharbor/event/phrarticle03.php


  I just finished reading " Day of Infamy"Lords Verson which is excelent from the human stand point and shows several places on this topic.  
Last but not least. David Akin is a master at describing friendly fire tackfully and truthfully.
  Enjoy Your New Found History,
Stephany Henson

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Keep Them Alive!!!
    Never forget what happened that horrible day and pass it forward.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 29 2005,3:19 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hi Paul,
  While we pass the olive branch back and forth. I too should have not made the statement a first person responce instead of stating I could understand his actions.
  I had a lot of the same questions you have, which the fine folks here have helped to answer.
Roger Hare, wrote a great atricle on the battle of Honolulu. and if I can put the link in like the big boys we are in like flint.

http://www.cinemenium.com/pearlharbor/event/phrarticle03.php


  I just finished reading " Day of Infamy"Lords Verson which is excelent from the human stand point and shows several places on this topic.  
Last but not least. David Akin is a master at describing friendly fire tackfully and truthfully.
  Enjoy Your New Found History,
Stephany Henson

--------------
Keep Them Alive!!!
    Never forget what happened that horrible day and pass it forward.
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studentdriver Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 29 2005,2:50 Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Ma'am,

Thank you for that particular link ... I think I did read similar things over the years but that is an excellent summary.

Although I came to this site like a bull in a china shop, it was not without any preliminary study or interest ... but it has been more of the Pacific war in general than in Pearl Harbor in particular. I have managed to read most of the canon on the subject, all of Samuel Eliot Morrison's official work, Toland and Gordon Prange and many others. I also have some small personal attachments to the events: my widowed grandmother's second husband was Frederick Horne, the fellow that was carrier boss in Fleet Problem XVIII who advocated that carriers operate as seperate forces, a view so unpopular with Admiral Bloch that he had all copies collected and destroyed. He was actually senior on the Navy list to Ernest King, another late arrival to naval aviation, but considered too old for a major command after the war broke out ... still, King, that notorious sonofabitch, had enough respect for his former mentor that he took him along to DC as his Vice CNO. He dealt with many issues requiring diplomacy, something King was temperamentally unsuited for, at places like the Trident conference.

As a lesser matter, the godfather of one of my sisters, Karl Lucasiak, played Captain Van Valkenburg of the Arizona in Tora cubed.

I started reading serious history at about eight, started doing research in secondary sources at about eleven (before Dungeons and Dragons, there were Fletcher Pratt's naval war games, so there was much poring over back issues of Jane's from the late 30's and early 40's). I have plowed through the more or less readable biographies of all of the major players and many of the lesser ones. People like Miles Browning, "Soc" McMorris, and "Terrible" Turner are personalities to me, not some generic idea of the interchangeable naval officer.

Then there are the twelve years I spent dressed as a shrubbery, in its own way informative to the views I take, and that gave me the opportunity to visit places like Okinawa and Iwo Jima, to walk the ground and frankly marvel at the level of heroism required to accomplish what was done.

Given all that, I think I would have to be considered a revisionist in this place. I do not subscribe to the theory that we were completely pure or that the Japanese were completely evil or insane. That sort of mythology muddies the lessons learned at such tremendous cost.

Best Wishes,

Paul Croshier,
Former jarhead.
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