Doris “Dorie” Miller has made U.S. naval history again.
During a Martin Luther King Jr. Day ceremony last week, the U.S. Navy named an aircraft carrier after the World War II-era sailor, whom the Postal Service honored with a stamp in 2010.
This marks the first time an aircraft carrier has been named for an African American, and the first time an enlisted sailor has been so honored.
Miller was on board the USS West Virginia the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese planes attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet at the Pearl Harbor naval station in Hawaii.
During the attack, he helped carry wounded shipmates to safety, then manned a .50-caliber anti-aircraft machine gun — a weapon on which he had no training — and fired it at enemy planes until the ammunition ran out.
The 22-year-old mess attendant was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions, becoming the first African American to receive the service’s second-highest decoration.
“In selecting this name, we honor the contributions of all our enlisted ranks, past and present, men and women, of every race, religion and background,” said Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly in a statement. “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observed, ‘Everybody can be great — because anybody can serve.’”
According to the Navy, the carrier will be deployed in support of major combat operations, crisis response and humanitarian relief.
Miller served in the Navy for two more years until his ship, the USS Liscome Bay, was sunk by a Japanese torpedo in the Pacific in 1943. He posthumously was awarded the Purple Heart.
Miller was one of four 20th-century naval heroes honored with 44-cent Distinguished Sailors stamps a decade ago, along with William S. Sims, Arleigh A. Burke and John McCloy.