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Aviation Radioman 2nd Class Harrison D. Miller receives the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroic actions on 31 January 1944 when U.S. forces invaded Kwajalein Atoll. At 1522 local time, an OS2N-1 ?Kingfisher? observation/scout float plane from the USS New Mexico (BB-40) was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire from Ebeye Island, an enemy float plane base at the time.  The Kingfisher suffered serious damage and was forced to make an emergency water landing in the lagoon due to high octane aviation fuel leaking into the bilges in the cockpit, filling it with fuel fumes presenting a critical fire hazard.  The pilot, Navy Lieutenant Forney O. Fuqua was mortally wounded by the enemy fire and instructed the Radioman in the rear cockpit of the Kingfisher, Harrison Miller, to bail out.  Miller elected to stay with the plane and to attempt a water landing himself from the rear cockpit.  With no prior flying experience, no flight instruments and only an emergency control stick in the rear cockpit, he successfully made a water landing from the back seat of the Kingfisher.  After landing, Miller got out of the rear cockpit onto the wing and made his way to the front cockpit and turned off the Kingfisher?s engine and started to unbuckle the pilot?s parachute and harness; but before he could get him unbuckled, the plane capsized due to the loss of the outboard pontoons during the landing.  Miller made numerous attempts to rescue the pilot and remove him from the cockpit, diving under the gasoline covered waters but was unsuccessful.
340131-M-0000G-002.jpg Photo By: Master Sgt. Chad McMeen

Jan 31, 1934
FL - Aviation Radioman 2nd Class Harrison D. Miller receives the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroic actions on 31 January 1944 when U.S. forces invaded Kwajalein Atoll. At 1522 local time, an OS2N-1 ?Kingfisher? observation/scout float plane from the USS New Mexico (BB-40) was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire from Ebeye Island, an enemy float plane base at the time. The Kingfisher suffered serious damage and was forced to make an emergency water landing in the lagoon due to high octane aviation fuel leaking into the bilges in the cockpit, filling it with fuel fumes presenting a critical fire hazard. The pilot, Navy Lieutenant Forney O. Fuqua was mortally wounded by the enemy fire and instructed the Radioman in the rear cockpit of the Kingfisher, Harrison Miller, to bail out. Miller elected to stay with the plane and to attempt a water landing himself from the rear cockpit. With no prior flying experience, no flight instruments and only an emergency control stick in the rear cockpit, he successfully made a water landing from the back seat of the Kingfisher. After landing, Miller got out of the rear cockpit onto the wing and made his way to the front cockpit and turned off the Kingfisher?s engine and started to unbuckle the pilot?s parachute and harness; but before he could get him unbuckled, the plane capsized due to the loss of the outboard pontoons during the landing. Miller made numerous attempts to rescue the pilot and remove him from the cockpit, diving under the gasoline covered waters but was unsuccessful.


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