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Pearl Harbor Hero Played By Cuba Gooding Jr. Was From Waco

Doris Miller
Image courtesy National Archives
Doris Miller of Waco is shown here just after being presented with the Navy Cross on board USS Enterprise at Pearl Harbor in May 1942. The medal was awarded for heroism on board USS West Virginia during the Pearl Harbor attack on Decemeber 7, 1941.

Today is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, and one of the celebrated American sailors who fought the surprise Japanese attack on the US Naval Base was from the Central Texas town of Waco.

War historians will have to pardon the pop culture training wheels, but many people may know Doris Miller best from Cuba Gooding Jr.'s portrayal of the Pearl Harbor hero in the 2001 film about the attack.

The cook who manned that 50-caliber Browning anti-aircraft gun was born in Waco on October 12, 1919.  He attended Moore High School (later consolidated into Waco High), and was a fullback on the football team, according to a Navy biography.

Miller has several buildings named after him across Texas, including an auditorium here in Austin. The Doris Miller Auditorium in Rosewood Park was commemorated on April 10, 1944, just a couple weeks before a memorial ceremony was held for Miller in Waco.

Update at 3:04 pm: KUT News freelancer Gretch Sanders filed this report today on a Pearl Harbor memorial ceremony in nearby Fredricksburg. The Hill Country town is the birthplace of one World War II hero Chester W. Nimitz, one of the last five-star admirals in the United States Navy. Fredricksburg is also home to the National Museum of the Pacific War. Listen to Gretch's report here.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.