Whitman Senter Miller was born in Nashville, Tennessee, the son of Elva Eusebius Miller and Harriet T. “Hattie” Senter. He served on the USS Peary (DD266). The USS Peary was sunk in Darwin Harbour on 19 February 1942 during a Japanese air raid on Darwin. 9 men were killed. Whitman Miller was officially declared dead on 20 February 1943.

Memorialized at Manila American Cemetery in Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines
Mother: Mrs. Martin Senter Miller, 113 Barbara Avenue, Fountain City, Knoxville
Siblings: Elva E. Miller, Harry T. Miller, Stanford Miller, and Lander Miller

The Tennessean, 15 May 1942
Whitman Senter Miller, 26, gunner’s mate, first class; son of Mrs. E.E. (Hattie Senter) Miller of Rosebank Avenue. Miller enlisted in 1935, and was in Honolulu four years on a salvage boat and worked as a diver. He was a graduate of Central High School. His mother said she heard from him regularly, but had received no message since mid-February.


The first ship named in honor of the arctic explorer, Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary, was the four piper destroyer, USS Peary (DD226). Her keel was laid on September 9, 1919, she was launched on April 6, 1920, and was commissioned on October 20, 1920

Peary had an overall length of 314 feet 5 inches, a designed speed of 35 knots and a complement of six officers and 95 men. She carried four 4-inch 50 caliber guns, one 3-inch 23 caliber gun, two .50 caliber machine guns, and twelve 21-inch torpedo tubes in four triple mounts.

Often serving as a destroyer division flagship, Peary spent most of her twenty-two years of fleet service cruising between ports of the Philippines and along the coast of China.

The outbreak of World War Two saw Peary conducting coastal defense and antisubmarine patrols near the Great Barrier Reef. The 1200 ton vessel was returning to Port Darwin, Australia from a patrol on the morning of February 19, 1942, when a formation of Japanese bomber appeared on the horizon. Gunner Harry Kopp, Australian Army, destribes Peary’s heroic last moments;
‘For an hour Peary assisted to fight off the air attack. The enemy aircraft first attacked tankers in the harbor and burning oil from one of them slowly spread towards Peary. She was badly damaged in the superstructure, part of it demolished and the remainder in flames. The Peary was struck forward and gradually began to sink by the bows. As the bows submerged three sailors were manning a .50 inch gun aft and they continued firing as the water surged to their chests. Other guns were firing on the ship as well. The ship was fought while barrels were exposed above water. One gun could no longer be supplied with regular ammunition and finally fire flare starshell at the aircraft overhead.”

Eighty of Peary’s crew died, thirteen were injured, and only one officer survived.

  • Rank: Gunnersmate First Class
  • Date of birth:
  • 12 November 1915
  • Date of death: 19 February 1942
  • County: Knox
  • Hometown: Knoxville
  • Service Branch: Navy
  • Division/Assignment: USS Peary (DD266)
  • Theater: Pacific
  • Conflict: World War II
  • Awards: Purple Heart, Navy bronze star
  • Burial/Memorial Location: Manila American Cemetery, Fort Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines
  • Location In Memorial: Pillar XIV, Top Panel
  • Contact us to sponsor Whitman S. Miller

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