BY JAIME A.B. WILSON, Ph.D., LP, ABN
Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, Mr. Doris “Dorie” Miller was serving coffee aboard the battleship USS West Virginia. Mr. Miller was an African American and the highest job to which he could then aspire in the US Navy was that of messman. At the time, the majority of US Military Officers were negatively critical regarding the allowance of African American individuals serving their country in the battlefield.
In Greatness Under Fire, Dante Brizill goes into detail about how Mr. Miller showed his crewmates – and his country – that he was capable of so much more. As the coffee cups suddenly went spinning and an explosion knocked Mr. Miller flat on his back, he jumped up and headed for the deck. Mammoth warships lay on their sides, the horizon ablaze with billowing smoke. Overhead, dozens of Japanese kamikaze bombers controlled the skies without a single US plane to repulse their attack.
Without hesitation, Mr. Miller joined a team that was feeding ammunition to a machine gunner. Mr. Miller did this despite the fact that men all around him were succumbing to the lethal spray of Japanese bullets. When Mr. Miller spotted his unit’s captain go down, he quickly retrieved and dragged him to safety, before turning back to see that the machine-gunner had been killed. Mr. Miller immediately took over the big gun and trained it on the incoming bombers.
Within the space of ten seemingly interminable minutes, Mr. Miller was credited with destroying four bombers while dodging the bullets of the Japanese fighter escorts. Amidst the dead bodies and ruined fleet, Mr. Miller stood as a hero. Despite the Navy attempting to maintain a stereotype of him, Mr. Miller changed all of this in a brief historical and incisive blow. His heroism helped to shatter the prevailing biases against African Americans in the US Armed Forces.
I am a true believer that many of us, as individuals with hearing loss, are contributors to shattering of biases regarding what we are capable of doing, especially as healthcare providers. Many of us have remained stalwart and steadfast in the pursuit of our dreams of serving others in our respective healthcare fields we love so much.
At the 2019 Baltimore Conference, AMPHL will be recognizing the significant contributions of some of its members. I invite you to submit nominations of a fellow healthcare provider with hearing loss who you believe deserves to be recognized for his or her contributions to the field of healthcare. Further information can be found here.
Last but not least, I invite you to consider serving on the 2019-21 AMPHL Board. I think we are each well-aware that AMPHL could not function without the support of individuals who dedicate their time and talents to the furtherance of our wonderful mission. Anyone with a passion for service in a great organization is welcome to apply! The AMPHL Board application – due March 1, 2019 – can be found here.
Although Mr. Miller could have accepted a sinecure at some US military post, he chose to remain in the combat zone where he was killed in action in December of 1943. We, as AMPHL members, serve in a much different battlefield of sorts. However, we – like Mr. Miller – continue to serve with a strong-willed belief that we can stand for something greater. Happy Holidays to each of you! To a great 2019 and beyond! … and if you have not already seen the new AMPHL Holiday video, check it out here.
Jaime A.B. Wilson, Ph.D., LP, ABN is AMPHL’s 2017-19 President. Dr. Wilson is a Board Certified Neuropsychologist. As part of the work in his private practice (Wilson Clinical Services, PLLC.), Dr. Wilson conducts comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations. The field of neuropsychology is dedicated to learning about and diagnosing conditions related to the brain and nervous system.