Ceremony to Rename Waco VA After WWII Hero Doris Miller Set for Thursday

The Waco Veterans Affairs Medical Centers name and brand soon will be officially linked to a local World War II hero.

The hospital is holding a renaming ceremony Thursday to formally become the Doris Miller Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, taking on the name of the Waco native and Navy veteran renowned for his heroic actions at Pearl Harbor.

U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, wrote the bill to change the hospitals name, which received unanimous support by both the U.S. House and Senate and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 10.

Flores will speak at the ceremony and present a copy of the official bill to be displayed at the hospital.

The ceremony will include unveiling the hospitals new name sign, which was installed during the weekend and will remain covered until the program.

Miller, a mess cook aboard the USS West Virginia when the ship was attacked at Pearl Harbor by Japanese bombers in 1941, carried his badly wounded captain to safety. He then manned a .50-caliber machine gun and took aim at fighter planes, despite not having any weaponry training, reportedly downing as many as three planes.

He became the first black person to be awarded the Navy Cross, the branchs second-highest military honor, for his actions at Pearl Harbor. Miller ultimately died aboard the USS Liscome Bay in 1943 after the ship was torpedoed in the South Pacific.

The hospital already bore several recognitions for Miller, such as a red granite monument to the sailor that VA staff moved from its original location beside Building 1 and installed in a more prominent position at the avenue of flags at the entrance to the hospital campus.

The inner street that circles the campus also is named after Miller. VA spokeswoman Deborah Meyer said having the entire complex named after a veteran with Millers accomplishments and name recognition is part of the agencys efforts to show appreciation for the sacrifices of the veterans it serves.

For example, the Olin E. Teague VA Hospital in Temple is named after the former U.S. congressman who participated in the D-Day invasion at Normandy in World War II.

Its an honor for the person its being named after, and its important for local veterans to know that when theres heroes in the area, theyre honored, Meyer said. Its important to recognize somebody whos made a mark for the community and to be able to associate (him) with an actual place.

Waco Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr. said the new name gives the facility a greater branding and connection to the city. Duncan will present a city proclamation at the ceremony.

I think it draws the VA and the city closer together, Duncan said. The community at large will have, I think, more of a sense of the VA belonging to the community and the community belonging to the VA when we have a local hero with their name on the front.




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