On Thursday, February. 4, the U.S. Postal Service issued “Distinguished Sailors” stamps in honor of four men who served with bravery and distinction during the 20th century — William S. Sims, Arleigh A. Burke, John McCloy and Doris Miller.
The first-day-of-issue ceremony was conducted at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Commander of U.S. naval forces in European waters during World War I, Vice Admiral William S. Sims (1858-1936) was an outspoken reformer and innovator who helped shape the Navy into a modern fighting force.
Sims continued to write and lecture about naval reform until his death in 1936, at which time the New York Herald Tribune declared that he had “influenced our naval course more than any man who ever wore the uniform.” The Navy has named three destroyers after Sims.
The William S. Sims stamp features detail from a photograph of Sims taken in 1919 along with a depiction of the crest of the destroyer escort USS W. S. Sims (DE-1059), which was commissioned in 1970.
After serving as one of the top destroyer squadron commanders of World War II, Admiral Arleigh A. Burke (1901-1996) had an equally distinguished postwar career and played a major role in modernizing the Navy.
When Burke died in 1996, he was hailed as a “sailor’s sailor” who defined what it meant to be a naval officer: “relentless in combat, resourceful in command, and revered by his crews.”
The Arleigh A. Burke stamp features detail from a photograph of Burke taken in 1951 and a depiction of the crest of the guided missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51), which was commissioned in 1991 as the first in a whole new class of destroyers.
Lieutenant Commander John McCloy (1876-1945) has the distinction of being one of the few men in the nation’s history to earn two Medals of Honor for separate acts of heroism.
McCloy retired from active duty in 1928 after a 30 year career in the Navy and “a lifetime of service on all the seven seas,” as the Kansas City Star put it. His service record notes that in 1942 he was advanced on the retired list to lieutenant commander after being “specially commended by the Secretary of the Navy for performance of duty in actual combat.”
In 1963, the Navy commissioned a destroyer escort, USS McCloy (DE-1038), which was named in his honor.
The John McCloy stamp features detail from a photograph of McCloy taken circa 1920. Beside the photograph is a depiction of the crest of the destroyer escort, USS McCloy (DE-1038).
The first African American hero of World War II, Doris Miller (1919-1943), became an inspiration to generations of Americans for his actions at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
He was the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross and was portrayed in the movie Pearl Harbor by Cuba Gooding Jr.
Miller is singularly remembered for providing inspiration to a campaign for equal recognition and opportunity for Blacks in the military, a campaign that bore fruit in 1948 when President Truman ordered “that there shall be equality and opportunity for all persons in the armed forces.”
The Doris Miller stamp features detail from a photograph of Miller taken in 1942. Beside the photograph is a depiction of the crest of the destroyer escort USS Miller (DE-1091), which was commissioned in 1973.