Jim Dick Miller
ENS on 7 Dec 1941
b. 2 Jul 1917 - d. 19 Jan 2000
Birth Place: Van Buren, Arkansas - Death Place: Coronado, California
Statement of Ensign Jim D. Miller:
From: USS Arizona Action Report - 13 December 1941
I had gotten up at about 0745, and had started to dress when a short air raid alarm sounded. The Arizona's air raid alarm consisted of the sounding of three blasts of a warning howler over the general announcing system. What I heard was only one short blast as though some one had accidentally touched the switch. I felt one explosion near the ship which seemed to me like a no-load shot on No. 2 Catapult. However it was followed by two more explosions, and I decided it was not a no-load shot, but of course had no idea just what the explosions were. Then the word was passed to set Condition ZED below the third deck. I slipped on a uniform and started to go down to the third deck to check up on the water tight doors and hatches. I still did not realize that there was actually an air raid. As soon as I came up to the second deck from the lower wardroom, I met a gunner's mate who said he was trying to find the magazine keys. I went into the Captain's cabin to call him and get the keys if possible. The Captain was not there. I then looked in the Gunnery Officer's Stateroom to see if I could get the keys from him, but he was not in either. By that time the gunner's mate had left me, and I went on down to the third deck.
General Quarters was sounded. I went into Turret III through the lower handling room to the booth, took the turret officer's station and manned the 2JE phones to Plot. Communications to Plot were OK. However, Turret III was the only turret I heard on the line. Shortly after I had reached the booth the turret was shaken by a bomb explosion of not very great intensity. After a minute or two a much more terrific explosion shook the turret. Smoke poured in through the overhang hatch, and I could see nothing but reddish flame outside. The 2JE phones went dead, all power went off the turret, and all lights went out. From all reports that I could get from inside the turret, the turret was not even half manned. I believe that it was at about this time that a bomb hit on the starboard side of the quarterdeck next to Turret IV, penetrated down to the third deck and exploded. From later examination I found that this bomb had glanced off the side of Turret IV and then had penetrated the decks. My lower handling room crew was shaken up, and water began coming into the lower handling room. Explosion gases were filling the turret from the overhang hatch and from openings into the lower room. I stepped outside the turret to see what the condition was on the quarterdeck. There were several small fires on the deck and awnings. I noticed several badly burned men lying on deck and saw Ensign Anderson, who had been Junior Officer of the Deck, lying on deck with a bad cut on his head.
I figured that with the turret not completely manned, with all power off, and with the turret full of suffocating gas we could do nothing toward repelling the attack. I sent the word into the turret for all hands to come outside and fight fires. All hands came out. Ensign Field and Ensign Flanagan were at their battle stations in the lower handling room. They were the last to come out of the turret and reported to me that everybody had gotten out and that all hatches in the turret had been closed behind them. I found all fire hoses already connected to plugs on the quarterdeck, but there was no water on the fire mains. An attempt to call the center engine room on the ship's service telephones was unsuccessful because the ship's service telephones were out of commission. It was also impossible to reach the engine room because of fire and smoke and gas. The First Lieutenant was on the quarterdeck and in charge. About all we could do was to try to put out fires and drag some of the wounded men under the protection of the overhangs of the turrets. We put out several of the small fires ? papers and awnings on deck ? with buckets of water. Fuel oil was coming up from some place on the port side and was catching on fire. The ship was down by the bow, and the quarterdeck began to become awash starting at the break of the deck at frame 88. The main and forecastle decks forward of frame 88 were ablaze. Oil on top of the water was feeding the fire. At one time the First Lieutenant asked me if I had seen the Captain or the Admiral. I told him I had been in the Captain's cabin and had not seen him. He wanted me to go down into the cabin and check again. White, T.A., BM2c, and myself went down into the cabin and looked around, felt in the Captain's bed, but could find no trace of him. However, it was dark and smoke was bad, and it is possible that we could have missed him. Nevertheless, I am sure he was not there. We did not go into the Admiral's cabin. We came back up to the quarterdeck.
Our boats, which were tied up to the quays and booms, were manned by some of the men who had swum to them from the side of the ship. One of the first boats which came alongside was a motor launch from the Solace with a medical rescue party. This boat took all our stretcher cases off the quarterdeck. Of these men the only ones that I recognized were Ensign Schubert, Ensign Anderson, Stephenson, H.D. Sea1/c, and a ship's cook, name unknown. Most of the men who were burned were unrecognizable. Shortly after the stretcher cases had been removed to the Solace motor launch, the First Lieutenant ordered abandon ship. All of our guns had ceased firing, the main, forecastle, and boat decks were burning; smoke obstructed a view of the foremast and the forward part of the ship. All officers quarters aft were flooded and the quarterdeck forward was awash. Our life rafts were cut down and put into the water [and] all hands ordered to go over the side. Men found the rafts difficult to paddle, and most of them crawled aboard motor launches or started swimming toward Ford Island. The First Lieutenant, Ensign Field, and about half a dozen men and myself were the last to leave in one of our fifty-foot motor launches. We picked up quite a few more men who were swimming toward the island. We made the officers' landing at Ford Island, and all hands went ashore except the boat crew, Ensign Field, and the First Lieutenant. The latter said that he was going back out and try to pick up any more men he could find. I was told to remain in charge of the men on Ford Island. We went to the air raid shelter at the northeastern corner of the island. All injured men were sent to the air station hospital as fast as possible. The rest remained in the air raid shelter until the raid was clear.
The Navy Cross is presented to Jim Dick Miller, Lieutenant (j.g.), U.S. Navy, for exceptional courage, presence of mind, and devotion to duty and disregard for his personal safety while serving on board the U.S.S. ARIZONA (BB-39) during the Japanese attack on the United States Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941. Upon Turret III of the U.S.S. ARIZONA becoming untenable due to gas from a bomb hit on the quarterdeck penetrating several decks and starting a fire, Lieutenant (j.g.) Miller ordered his turret crew out to fight fires. Almost immediately, a tremendous explosion forward made the ship appear to rise out of the water, shudder and settle rapidly down by the bow. The whole forward part of the ship was enveloped in flames spreading rapidly; wounded and burned men poured onto the quarterdeck. Despite these conditions plus severe enemy bombing and strafing, Lieutenant (j.g.) Miller assisted in directing firefighting to check them while wounded and burned could be taken from the ship. He supervised their rescue in such an amazingly clam, cool manner and with such excellent judgment, it inspired everyone who saw him and undoubtedly resulted in saving many lives. After the abandon ship order he remained on the quarterdeck assisting in directing abandon ship and rescue of personnel, until satisfied that all personnel who could be, had been saved, after which he left his ship with the last boatload. Furthermore, after leaving his ship, on his own initiative he engineered a motor launch that proceeded to the quays and picked up personnel seeking protection from the severe fires, and rescued many men from the water. The conduct of Lieutenant (j.g.) Miller throughout this action reflects great credit upon himself, and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Born: July 2, 1917 at Van Buren, Arkansas
Home Town: Borger, Texas
Jim Dick Miller
CORONADO, Calif. - Jim Dick Miller, 82, died Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2000.
Services will be at noon Wednesday, Feb. 2 in Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church. Graveside services will full military honors will be at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Point Loma, San Diego. Arrangements are by Pinkham-Mitchell Mortuary in Imperial Beach.
Jim Dick Miller, a retired captain in the Navy, was born in Van Buren, Ark. He moved with his family to Sapulpa, Okla., and then to Borger, Texas, and graduated from Borger High School in 1934. He attended Amarillo Junior College before entering the U.S. Naval Academy in 1935.
He graduated from the Academy in 1939 and was deployed to the USS Arizona, where he was serving when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He rescued a men from his burning ship and received the Navy Cross for valor during the attack. He conducted wartime patrols in the Pacific on the USS Spearfish. His other wartime honors include the Silver Star and Bronze Star, and he earned the Legion of Merit and the Gold Star during his 30-year career.
Mr. Miller served in the 1946 Arctic expedition and was a submarine commander, including service in Key West, Fla., during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He served on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and commanded the Gulf Sub-Area, Military Sea Transportation Service in New Orleans. He was the highest-ranking survivor of the Arizona.
Mr. Miller earned his master's degree in math from North Caroline State University and taught at colleges in the San Diego area. He was active in community affairs in Coronado, was a member of Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church and was active with veterans' organizations, including the U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II.
He married Mary Jane Sullivan in 1943 at Los Angeles. She died in 1997.
Survivors include two sons, William Miller of Wilmington, Del., and James Miller of Manhattan Beach; three sisters, Catherine Spiller and Myra Fowler, both of Amarillo, and Mabel Wade of Lynchburg, Va.; three brothers, Oth Miller and Dee Miller, both of Amarillo, and G. William Miller of Washington, D.C.; and four grandchildren.
The family suggests memorials in lieu of flowers to Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church, 10th Street and C Avenue, Coronado, CA 92118; or the Friends of the Coronado Public Library, 640 Orange Ave., Coronado, CA 92118.
U.S. Veterans Gravesites Information:
Name: Jim Dick Miller
Service Info.: CAPT US NAVY WORLD WAR II, KOREA, VIETNAM
Birth Date: 2 Jul 1917
Death Date: 19 Jan 2000
Service Start Date: 30 May 1939
Interment Date: 2 Feb 2000
Cemetery: Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery
Cemetery Address: P.O. Box 6237 San Diego, CA 92166
Buried At: Section Cbe Row 3 Site 111