Join us for a very special virtual celebration of Veterans Day with Dr. Regina T. Akers of the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, DC, and Megan Churchwell of the Puget Sound Navy Museum.
Dr. Akers will be sharing the story of Dorie Miller, an African American Storekeeper Third Class with the US Navy, who was recently honored as the namesake for an aircraft carrier. Briefly stationed at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Miller became a shining example of bravery during the attack on Pearl Harbor and was often referenced during the fight to further desegregate branches of the armed forces. Miller died in combat as a Ships Cook Third Class.
World War II brought many service members to the Pacific Northwest for the first time including many African Americans. Megan Churchwell will describe the history of the Puget Sound Navy Yard and how WWII led to changing demographics.
More about the speakers:
Dr. Regina T. Akers is a senior historian and the lead oral historian in Histories Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command. She enjoys a national reputation as a subject matter expert on diversity and personnel issues in the United States military with an emphasis on women and African Americans in the Navy. She served as the first chair of the command’s Senior Historians Advisory Committee. Dr. Akers earned her doctorate in United States History and Public History at Howard University, where she taught women’s and public history as an adjunct professor. Her publications include The Navy’s First Enlisted Women: Patriotic Pioneers (Naval History and Heritage Command, 2019), book chapters, articles, encyclopedia entries, book reviews, and blogs. She is a co-author for the Navy’s forthcoming oral history guide. She has presented at a myriad of symposia ranging from the Wilson Center to the National Archives, and she has given numerous media interviews. She discussed the importance of oral history at the Women’s Military History Symposium sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute on 17 July 2019. She provided an analysis of the racial integration of the military from 1940 to 1973 at the United States Naval Academy’s 2019 International McMullen Naval History Symposium. Her prestigious assignments include the African American Civil War Sailors Project, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Task Force, and the advisory committee supporting a Congressional effort to establish a women’s history museum on the National Mall. She is also a key contributor to the Pentagon’s African American Corridor Renovation Project, the African American Naval Academy graduates documentary, and the 50th Anniversary of the National Naval Officers Association. She is a 2020 Forrest Pogue Award recipient for outstanding career achievements in oral history. The Acting Secretary of the Navy and other senior naval leaders recognized her historical support for black history month presentations, the naming of the next Ford-Class aircraft carrier after Doris Miller, and the Navy’s 5 March 2020 International Women’s Day program.
Megan Churchwell has been the Curator of the Puget Sound Navy Museum since 2014. Her background includes a Bachelor’s degree in American History from Willamette University and a Master of Arts in Museum Studies from the University of Washington. The Puget Sound Navy Museum, one of ten official U.S. Navy museums around the country, is located in Bremerton next to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. The museum’s mission focuses on the naval heritage of the Pacific Northwest. At the Navy Museum, Megan develops exhibits, assists researchers, and manages the museum’s social media presence.