San Diego WWII hero passes away at age 103

Posted at 6:23 PM, May 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-22 12:02:29-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - An American hero has passed away at the age of 103. Chief Steward Andy Mills broke barriers in the military and is best known for his heroic actions during the Battle of Midway.

His niece, Carolyn Coleman, says it's hard to pick just one word that describes her uncle.

"He was amazing, sweet, generous, kindhearted, amazing, loving, I could go on and on and on," said Coleman.

Mills enlisted in the then-segregated U.S. Navy as a steward in 1934. At the time African American's were assigned the worst possible jobs and treated like second-class citizens.

Despite that, Mills made his mark during the harrowing four-day battle when he was tasked with finding important documents on a sinking ship. Mills was the only one able to crack the safe.

Mills would go on to become one of the Navy's first black chiefs.

"He was a hero," said Carolyn. "I'm going to miss him, I'm going to miss that man."

Mills will receive military funeral honors next week.