Desmond Thomas Doss, Medal of Honor recipient
|Birth name||Desmond Thomas Doss|
February 7, 1919|
|Died||March 23, 2006
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1942–1946|
|Unit||77th Infantry Division|
|Battles/wars||Battle of Okinawa|
|Awards||Medal of Honor
Bronze Star (2)
Purple Heart (3)
|Spouse(s)||Dorothy (nee Schutte) Doss (m. 1942–1991),
Francis (nee Duman) Doss (m. 1993–2006)
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.
Drafted in April 1942, 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 while serving in the Pacific theatre of World War II he helped his country by saving the lives of his comrades, at the same time adhering to his religious convictions. Doss was wounded three times during the war, and shortly before leaving the Army he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which cost him a lung. Discharged from the Army in 1946, he spent five years undergoing medical treatment for his injuries and illness.
Desmond Doss died in 2006 at his home in Piedmont, Alabama, after being hospitalized for breathing troubles, the same day as another Medal of Honor recipient, David Bleak. He was buried in Chattanooga, Tennessee's National Cemetery.
In popular culture
Doss is the subject of The Conscientious Objector, an award-winning documentary. In addition, the feature film Hacksaw Ridge based on his life is now completed and will be released nationwide on November 4, 2016. The original story was written by Gregory Crosby, and the movie was directed by Mel Gibson with Andrew Garfield in the lead role. The project was produced by Bill Mechanic, David Permut, Steve Longi, Gregory Crosby, and Terry Benedict.
Doss was also featured in the Medal of Honor Special comic written by Doug Murray and published by Dark Horse comics. The comic was a special edition of the series Medal of Honor, published April 1, 1994. The title was sanctioned by the United States Congressional Medal of Honor Society. The issue features Sgt. Desmond Doss along with another Medal of Honor recipient, Lt. Charles Q. Williams.
Medal of Honor citation
Entered service at: Lynchburg, Virginia
Birth: Lynchburg, Virginia
G.O. No.: 97, November 1, 1945.
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
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.
- List of Medal of Honor recipients
- List of Medal of Honor recipients for World War II
- Medical Cadet Corps
- Thomas W. Bennett
- Joseph G. LaPointe, Jr.
- "In Memory of Harold Edward Doss". Brown Funeral Home. Retrieved August 1, 2015.
- "Desmond T. Doss".
- "WWII Army Enlistment Records". June 30, 2005.
- Herndon, Booton (1967). The Unlikeliest Hero. Boise, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association. p. 182. ISBN 0-8163-2048-9.
- Richard Goldstein (March 25, 2006). "Desmond T. Doss, 87, Heroic War Objector, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
- "Service Profile".
- "The Conscientious Objector". imdb.com. 2013. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
- "Hacksaw Ridge (2016)". IMDb. January 29, 2015.
- Dark Horse. "Medal of Honor Special". (September 17, 2014).
- Pritzker Military Museum & Library online catalog. "Medal of Honor Special". (September 17, 2014).
- "Walker County". Calhoun Times. September 1, 2004. p. 108. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
- Guest House named after Medal of Honor recipient, WRAMC News Releases, July 17, 2008. Retrieved on August 31, 2008.
- Piedmont Medal of Honor recipient honored with state highway designation, The Anniston Star, Michael A. Bell, August 31, 2008. Retrieved on August 31, 2008.
- ^ Medal of Honor recipients World War II (A-F) at the United States Army Center of Military History
- The Chattanoogan: Burial Set April 3 At National Cemetery For Medal of Honor Winner Desmond Doss (retrieved March 28, 2006)
- Leepson, Marc, "Desmond Thomas Doss (1919–2006)," Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Library of Virginia (1998– ), published 2015 (http://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/dvb/bio.asp?accessed July 11, 2016).
- Leepson, Marc (2008), "Wonder Man of Okinawa," Military History magazine, September/October 2008, Vol. 25, No. 4.
- 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 link in
- "Desmond Doss". Find a Grave. Retrieved September 2, 2010.
- "The Conscientious Objector (2004 film)". Retrieved September 29, 2010.
- "The Documentary". Retrieved September 29, 2010.
- "North America: Filmmaker Documents Story of Desmond Doss". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Adventist News Network. 18 November 2003. Retrieved 8 January 2010.
- "Desmond T. Doss Junior Academy, a Seventh-Day Adventist school in Lynchburg, Virginia". Retrieved September 29, 2010.
- "Obituaries:Desmond Thomas Doss, Sr., MOH". Retrieved May 8, 2016.