The Doris Miller Memorial, a ship-like tribute to Waco native and Navy Cross recipient Doris Miller, took a solid step toward completion this week with the pouring of its concrete foundation, bringing the $2 million project closer to a planned finish by Dec. 7.
J.P. Lowry Construction workers poured the foundation that will support the steel hull of the ship-like memorial and the pool in which the memorial will stand in Bledsoe-Miller Park on a bank of the Brazos River.
After a wait on the steel for the foundation, project coordinator Doreen Ravenscroft, president of Cultural Arts of Waco, was delighted to see the progress, she said.
“It’s absolutely fantastic,” Ravenscroft said Wednesday. “We’re closer to achieving the goal of the first phase.”
Project fundraisers are closing in the $1.2 million needed for the initial construction work on the memorial, and plans are underway to raise the $850,000 needed for the memorial’s steel hull and final work, she said.
When completed, the memorial will have a 9-foot bronze statue of Miller standing near the prow of converging steel walls suggesting a ship’s hull pointed toward the water. The statue was unveiled last December.
The sculpture and memorial honor Miller, a mess attendant on the USS West Virginia when Japanese aircraft attacked the U.S. fleet at anchor in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941.
Miller pulled shipmates and an officer to safety while under enemy fire, then fired at enemy planes from one of the ship’s machine guns. His bravery in action won him the Navy Cross, making him the first African-American to win the medal.
This week’s concrete pouring, when finished, will put the memorial construction about a third of the way toward its finish, Ravenscroft said.
The wooden framework to contain the concrete foundation will be removed within the next few days, giving viewers a sense of the memorial’s scale and presence.
“People can see how dramatic it’s going to be,” she said.