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Lieutenant Commander Johnson, Doir C.

On the night of 6 December Lieutenant Commander Doir Johnson of West Virginia was on shore patrol duty and found that, for a Saturday night, things were fairly quiet. Back on board the battleship next morning he reacted to the Japanese attack by making his way to his post on the bridge, pausing to tell an anti-aircraft gunner to stop worrying about precise fuse settings and to get firing at once. As he continued his dash for the bridge, two bombs dropped by Nakajima B5N2 Kates from the carrier Soryu under the command of Lieutenant Heijiro Abe, 1st Division, 3rd Attack Unit, struck the ship, but did not explode. The bomb that hit Tennessee did explode and fragments struck West Virginia's captain, Mervyn Bennion (Bennion, Mervyn) in the abdomen. Johnson, thinking his captain would have to be moved, sent for Mess Attendant 2nd Class Doris Miller (Miller, Doris), a huge African-American and the ship's heavyweight champion. In the event Miller manned a machine-gun and conducted himself with such courage that Johnson recommended him for the Navy Cross. By 0930 the battleship had, under the control of Lieutenant Commander John Harper (Harper, John), settled upright on the bottom of the harbor, her upperworks still burning. She was abandoned, and Johnson swam to Ford Island through the oil-covered water. He was able to return to the wreck in the afternoon, but the ship was, for the time being, a loss.

See also: 3rd Attack Unit; Bennion, Mervyn; Ford Island; Harper, John; Kate; Miller, Doris; Soryu; Tennessee; West Virginia

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