Some heroes gets their rewards and others get, something else

EFD Celebrates 2,500 posts since 2005. Weird huh?

It was nice, if only for a short time, to view something on TV news other than blatant speculation over what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. I speak of the somewhat solemn ceremony that is taking place in the White House as I write this. Of course, the airing of the ceremony on CNN didn’t last long because Jake Tapper had to come in and talk and talk some more. The White House to do is honoring 24 soldiers from World War II, Korea and Vietnam with the Medal of Honor. These were Black, Hispanic and Jewish soldiers — the majority awarded posthumously — who were originally presented the Distinguished Service Cross. A congressional review upgraded the awards from the nation’s second highest for valor to the top decoration. It isn’t stated on the special “microsite” but because these brave soldiers were Black, Hispanic and Jewish is why they were not originally awarded the Medal of Honor.

First U.S. WWII hero. Dorris Miller, remains without Medal of Honor
First U.S. WWII hero. Dorris Miller, remains without Medal of Honor

It is always a glimpse at a real hero to read the citations for the MOH dating back to the Civil War. Well, some may argue that certain ones didn’t deserve the award. Read the citations and make your mind up on your own. And, it’s certainly not to say that a few of the awards are, shall we say, unusual, such as the Unknown Soldiers of Rumania (now spelled Romania) and Italy, both from World War I.

Speaking of unrewarded heroes, which we were, I see there is a development in getting additional recognition for perhaps the first American hero of World War II. I wrote a story more than a decade ago as to how locals in the Waco, Texas, area had made a push to upgrade a Navy Cross — now the Navy’s second highest — to the Medal of Honor. The award was third highest behind the MOH and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal when Cook Third Class Doris Miller received the medal.

Miller was a Black farm hand from the Waco area when he joined the Navy in 1939 and ended up as a mess attendant and cook, one of the few jobs open to African Americans back then. Miller, called “Dorie” by his shipmates, was stationed on the battleship U.S.S. West Virginia berthed in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Miller responded to the attack along with shipmates. Miller helped move the ship’s captain, whose wounds proved mortal, to a place of greater safety on the bridge. Although he had not been trained to fire anti-aircraft weapons, Miller took over such a gun battery and began shooting at Japanese planes. Stories passed down through the years say Miller even shot down one of the planes, though it was never proven. Miller was portrayed in the 2001 movie “Pearl Harbor” by Cuba Gooding Jr.

There remains a long-held notion that Miller would have been a Medal of Honor recipient had he have been white. To the day, the effort to have Miller nominated for the MOH has failed. It is most fitting, though not a substitute for a Medal of Honor, that the Republican U.S. House member, Rep. Bill Flores, who represents that area of Central Texas, is leading an effort to have the Waco Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital named after Dorie Miller. I used that facility for my VA primary care for some seven years. And I believe that I played a pretty major role as a journalist in keeping the facility from closure. I know that sounds conceited and probably is. But it is nevertheless the truth. The publication I wrote for back then has the hardware to prove it . That isn’t taking anything from them. Papers like rewards and they got recognition for my work and that of a couple of others.

Okay, so now what? We go back to endless coverage of Flight 370? It is a mystery, though one wonders how long it will sustain the coverage cable news is giving it? Only fate and the suits know for sure. So until next time, … “All Right. Good night.”

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