Desmond Doss

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Desmond Doss
DossDesmondT USArmy.jpg  Cmoh army.jpg
Desmond Thomas Doss, Medal of Honor recipient
Birth name Desmond Thomas Doss
Born (1919-02-07)February 7, 1919
Lynchburg, Virginia
Died March 23, 2006(2006-03-23) (aged 87)
Piedmont, Alabama
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1942–1946
Rank Corporal
Unit 77th Infantry Division
Battles/wars Battle of Okinawa
Awards Medal of Honor
Bronze Star (2)
Purple Heart (3)

Desmond Thomas Doss (February 7, 1919 – March 23, 2006) was the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor and one of only three so honored (the others are Thomas W. Bennett and Joseph G. LaPointe, Jr.). He was a Corporal (Private First Class at the time of his Medal of Honor heroics) in the U.S. Army assigned to the Medical Detachment, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. He died the same day as another Medal of Honor recipient, David Bleak.

Life[edit]

Doss was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, the son of Bertha E. (Oliver) and William Thomas Doss, a carpenter.[1][2]

Drafted in April 1942,[3] Desmond Doss refused to kill, or carry a weapon into combat, because of his personal beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist. He consequently became a medic, and by serving in the Pacific theatre of World War II helped his country by saving the lives of his comrades, while also adhering to his religious convictions. Doss was injured twice during the war and shortly before leaving the Army he was diagnosed with tuberculosis which cost him a lung.[4][5] He left the Army in 1946.[6] He spent five years undergoing medical treatment for his injuries and illness.[5]

His Medal of Honor was given in recognition of the risks he took to save the lives of so many comrades.

He is the subject of The Conscientious Objector, an award-winning documentary,[7] and an upcoming feature film by the same name. The project has been developed and financed by Walden Media, and will be produced by Bill Mechanic, David Permut, Steve Longi, Gregory Crosby, and Terry Benedict.

He was also featured in the Medal of Honor Special comic written by Doug Murray and published by Dark Horse comics.[8] The comic was a special edition of the series Medal of Honor, published April 1, 1994.[8] The title was sanctioned by the United States Congressional Medal of Honor Society.[8] The issue features Sgt. Desmond Doss along with another Medal of Honor recipient, Lt. Charles Q. Williams.[9]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Rank and organization: Private First Class, United States Army, Medical Detachment, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near Urasoe Mura, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, April 29, 1945 – May 21, 1945.

Entered service at: Lynchburg, Virginia

Birth: Lynchburg, Virginia

G.O. No.: 97, November 1, 1945.

Doss receiving the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman
Citation
Cmoh army.jpg

He was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet (120 m) high. As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying all 75 casualties one-by-one to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands. On May 2, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards (180 m) forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within 8 yards (7.3 m) of enemy forces in a cave's mouth, where he dressed his comrades' wounds before making 4 separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety. On May 5, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small arms fire and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, Pfc. Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet (7.6 m) from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards (91 m) to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire. On May 21, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Pfc. Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. Awaiting the litter bearers' return, he was again struck, by a sniper bullet while being carried off the field by a comrade, this time suffering a compound fracture of 1 arm. With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards (270 m) over rough terrain to the aid station. Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Pfc. Doss saved the lives of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.

Other honors and recognition[edit]

Doss Hall renaming ceremony

On July 10, 1990, a section of Georgia Highway 2 between US Highway 27 and Georgia Highway 193 in Walker County was named the "Desmond T. Doss Medal of Honor Highway."[10]

In July 2008, the guest house at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. was renamed Doss Memorial Hall.[11]

On August 30, 2008, a two-mile stretch of Alabama Highway 9 in Piedmont was named the "Desmond T. Doss, Sr. Memorial Highway."[12]

He was a resident of Lynchburg, Virginia for which a portion of US Route 501 near Peaks View Park is named in his honor. Local veterans of the area still honor this hero by decorating the signs marking this portion of road several times during the year particularly around patriotic holidays and especially Memorial Day.

He died at his home in Piedmont, Alabama after being hospitalized for breathing troubles.[5] He is buried in Chattanooga, Tennessee's National Cemetery.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.brownfuneralhomeswv.com/book-of-memories/1359445/Doss-Harold/obituary.php?Printable=true
  2. ^ "Desmond T. Doss". 
  3. ^ "WWII Army Enlistment Records". 30 June 2005. 
  4. ^ Herndon, Booton (1967). The Unlikeliest Hero. Boise, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association. p. 182. ISBN 0-8163-2048-9. 
  5. ^ a b c Richard Goldstein (March 25, 2006). "Desmond T. Doss, 87, Heroic War Objector, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Service Profile". 
  7. ^ "The Conscientious Objector". imdb.com. 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c Dark Horse. "Medal of Honor Special". (17 Sep 2014). Retrieved from: http://www.darkhorse.com/Comics/33-642/Medal-of-Honor-Special
  9. ^ Pritzker Military Museum & Library online catalog. "Medal of Honor Special". (17 Sep 2014). http://www.pritzkermilitary.org/explore/library/online-catalog/view/oclc/31524932
  10. ^ "Medal of Honor recipient Desmond Doss, 87, dies". 
  11. ^ Guest House named after Medal of Honor recipient, WRAMC News Releases, July 17, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-31.
  12. ^ Piedmont Medal of Honor recipient honored with state highway designation, The Anniston Star, Michael A. Bell, August 31, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-31.
  1. ^ Medal of Honor recipients World War II (A-F) at the United States Army Center of Military History
  2. The Chattanoogan: Burial Set April 3 At National Cemetery For Medal of Honor Winner Desmond Doss (retrieved March 28, 2006)

Further reading[edit]

  • Herndon, Booton (2004). The Unlikeliest Hero: The Story of Desmond T. Doss, Conscientious Objector Who Won His Nation's Highest Military Honor. Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association. ISBN 978-0-8163-2048-6. .
  • Doss, Frances M. (2005). Desmond Doss: Conscientious Objector. Pacific Press Publishing Association. ISBN 978-0-8163-2124-7. 
  • Doss, Frances M. (1998). Desmond Doss: In God's care: The unlikeliest hero and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. The College Press. 
  • Soper, Matthew (April 2002). "Desmond Doss: A War Hero Without a Gun". Incredible People Magazine. 

External links[edit]