A hometown hero in Waco was honored Thursday for his bravery during the Pearl Harbor attack.

A 9-foot-tall bronze statue of Doris Miller was unveiled on the banks of the Brazos river.

Doris Miller saved lives aboard a ship called the West Virginia. When the first bombs blasted, Miller went to the main deck where he assisted in moving the mortally wounded captain. Without any experience, he raced to an unattended deck gun and fired at the attacking planes until forced to abandon ship. For his courageous actions, he was the first African-American to be awarded the Navy Cross. His family said for him to be honored gives them goosebumps.

"This is a long time waiting,” Miller's niece Henrietta Miller-Bledsoe said. “Even though there has been a lot of recognition throughout the United States, to have it in his hometown was awesome."

Since 2009, The Waco Cultural Arts Fest raised $1.2 million dollars for the Doris Miller Project. Eddie Dixon is a sculptor from Lubbock. He built the statue, and said it's made him proud.

"This was very special to me,” Dixon said. "Unfortunately, I did not meet him, but I met some of his history. I spoke to some of his relatives."

Navy veterans who spent years aboard the navy ship U.S.S. Miller, which was named after Doris Miller said this statue is like meeting the man himself.

"We served aboard the namesake, and we are all very proud of this fine, fine young man," Navy Veteran Jeff Grimm said.

The Doris Miller Statue is the future centerpiece of the Doris Miller Memorial. The memorial is expected to be completed during the Memorial Day weekend and still needs another $600,000 to be completed.

Nearly two years after Pearl Harbor, Doris Miller was killed in action when a ship he was on was sunk by a Japanese submarine. He was 24-years-old.