Alfonso Harris

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Alfonso Laurell Harris was born March 26, 1926 at old Parkland Hospital a few miles from his home.  He was a good student and entered Booker T. Washington High School at age 11, allowing him to graduate when he was just 15.  He he later moved to the Northwest and began working as an aircraft engine inspector in Ogden, Utah.  On July 14, 1944 he enlisted in the US Army, shortly after his 18th birthday at nearby Fort Douglas, Utah.  As it did for hundreds of thousands of others, the terms of his enlistment read “Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law.”

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Doris Miller (1919-1943)

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(Doris Miller poster in the World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana)

Doris “Dorie” Miller was a true Texas hero.  He was classified as a Navy Messman on December 7, 1941, serving on the USS West Virginia, a battleship.  At the time, Messman was one of the few positions open to African American sailors.  Miller was solidly built, carrying over 200 lb. on his 6’3” frame.  He’d taken up boxing and was heavyweight champion of the West Virginia out of a crew of about 2,000.  The West Virginia was on station in in Hawaii at Pearl Harbor.  That morning, he woke at 0600, as was his custom.  He served breakfast mess and was still below deck collecting soiled laundry when the first torpedo hit the West Virginia just before 0800.  He heard and felt the explosion and immediately went to his battle station, an anti-aircraft gun near the heart of the ship.

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