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Desmond T. Doss, CPL, United States Army, Pacifist, and Medal of Honor Recipient
17 January 1919 – 23 March 2006

Doss was a devout Seventh-Day Adventist. In accordance with the dictates of his faith, he would not carry a gun, eat meat, or do any kind of work on Saturday. Doss actually had to fight his local draft board for Conscientious Objector status (he preferred the term “Conscientious Cooperator”) in order to join the Army, as the board wanted to grant him a wavier of service due to his peculiar religious practices.

During training, he was ridiculed and threatened by his fellow soldiers. One soldier, disgusted by his refusal to participate in combat training or do any training on Saturday, promised to kill Doss as soon as combat presented the opportunity.

Doss showed his bravery in combat as his unit fought through the Pacific. On May 5th, 1945, (a Saturday,) Doss’ unit was ordered to take an escarpment on Okinawa riddled with fortified machine gun nests. The unit ascended the cliff of the escarpment and immediately came under intense gun fire.

In the course of 12 hours of relentless battle, Doss evacuated 75 or more wounded, lowering them over the cliff to cover one by one. Doss was wounded several times during the action, including a compound fracture of his right arm, but chose to treat himself rather than call another medic from cover. He waited five hours to be evacuated himself. Amazingly, as he was being carried to the rear, he and his rescuers came under attack. Noticing a more severely wounded soldier near by, Doss rolled off of his litter and insisted the litter-bearers take him first.

When President Truman awarded Doss the Medal of Honor, he said “I consider this [awarding you this medal] a greater honor than being President.”

Doss lived out the rest of his life engaged in honest labor, taking care of his wife and family, and traveling the Seventh-Day Adventist Sunday School circuit talking about how faith played a role in his life. He died a little over a year ago.

His life stands as an example of physical and moral courage.

Eternal Memory!

WAC

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