By Rick Larson Jr.
Desmond Doss served in the U.S Army during World War II as a medic. He is no ordinary medic though. Desmond is accredited with saving at least 75 soldiers lives, even though he did not carry or use a gun at all. He found himself stuck between a rock and a hard place. This is because Desmond thoroughly believed in the American cause during the war, but he was also a Seventh-day Adventist. Because of this, he refused to touch a gun or work on the Sabbath.
One of the most gruesome and intense battles during this campaign happened at the battle of Hacksaw Ridge.
A Conscientious Objector
Because of his views, Desmond was often given a hard time while serving by his fellow soldiers. Little did they know, that he was the reason that they would make it back home alive. Or, that three years after serving, Desmond Doss would receive the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military honor. There were only 431 recipients during WWII, out of a total of 16 million servicemen.
While serving in a shipyard called Newport News Naval shipyard, the attacks on Peal Harbor happened. Feeling like he needed to help his country however possible, Desmond joined the Army, and received much backlash from his fellow soldiers for his different views. Despite the hostility, Desmond never held a grudge, and unselfishly helped anyone he could.
His higher-ups tried to get him kicked out of their company but were unsuccessful because of a 1940 law that allowed conscientious objectors to serve in the military, taking up “non-combat positions. What a miracle it was for that company that Desmond Doss was not kicked from the company, because little did anyone know that hours later, Desmond would show the ultimate courage and heroism during a time at war, saving many fellow soldiers life’s.
A War Hero
In combat, Desmond served on the Islands of Guam, Leyte and Okinawa in the Pacific during 1945. One of the most gruesome and intense battles during this campaign happened at the battle of Hacksaw Ridge. In Okinawa. American Soldiers were faced with the task of climbing this steep ridge that lead to a plateau and was heavily guarded by thousands of Japanese soldiers.
Despite Heavy gunfire and complete chaos, Desmond never hesitated when he saw a downed man, and said he was constantly praying to God, “Lord, please help me get one more”. During the 12-hours of this bloody fight, Desmond Doss saved the lives of 75 soldiers. Many of who were the same ones giving him a hard time. The menace of this company now turned into their own personal angel.
Desmond Doss would look for injured and downed fellow soldiers, go and recover their bodies, then tie a rope to them and hoist them down the ridge to other fellow medics. This was all done while avoiding enemy bullets, and what seemed to be constant explosions.
Medal of Honor and Legacy
Carl Bentley, a fellow veteran who was also at Hacksaw Ridge, said that, “It’s as if God had his hand on [Doss’] shoulder. It’s the only explanation I can give.” Desmond Doss was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman, and he passed away in 2006. Despite no longer living, the story and legacy of Desmond Doss will live on forever.