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Desmond T. Doss Info from here and here.
| Desmond T. Doss (February 7, 1919March 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.
Desmond Doss refused to kill, or carry a weapon into combat, because of his personal beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist. He thus 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.
His Medal of Honor was earned by the risks he took to save the lives of many comrades.
He is the subject of the award-winning documentary, The Conscientious Objector.
|Desmond T. Doss was 23 years old when he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942. The lanky Lynchburg, Va., native was much like other young men of the Greatest Generation, but one thing set Desmond apart from the other new troops. He was a devout Seventh Day Adventist and refused to touch a weapon. Some of the men in his training unit made jokes about him, others threatened him, but Desmond held firm to his beliefs.
The Army considered discharging him, but Desmond objected. Id be a very poor Christian if I accepted a discharge implying that I was mentally off because of my religion, he told the review board. Im sorry, gentlemen, but I cant accept that kind of a discharge. He was granted conscientious objector status and the former cabinetmaker trained as a medic. Desmond was assigned to the 307th Infantry Regiment of the 77th Infantry Division and sent to the Pacific theater. In 1944, he participated in the amphibious assault on Guam and tended to wounded soldiers though two weeks of hard jungle fighting. After the island was secured, Desmond was awarded the bronze star.
After several more combat landings, the 77th faced its most deadly challenge in Operation Iceberg, the battle for Okinawa. The battle began on April 1, 1945, and the Typhoon of Steel quickly became one of the highest casualty engagements of the war. Japanese defenders resisted to the last man from a system of cave complexes and underground tunnels. By the end of April, Army and Marine forces had become bogged down before formidable enemy defenses along a 400-foot-high jagged ridgeline called the Maeda Escarpment. The 307th Infantry Regiment was assigned to storm the ridgeline and break the back of the Japanese position.
On the morning the assault was launched, Desmond suggested to his platoon leader, Lieutenant Goronto, that the men say a prayer. I believe prayer is the best life saver there is, he said. The men should really pray before going up.
Fellows, come over here and gather around, the lieutenant said, Doss wants to pray for us. Actually, Desmond had meant that each man should observe his own moment of prayer, but the men of the unit humored him and stood by while Desmond read a passage from his Bible. Then they set about their grim business.
According to one participant, the assault on Maeda Escarpment was all hell rolled into one. It was seven days and nights of bitter struggle with rifles, bayonets, hand grenades, knives and fists. The men of Desmonds battalion advanced to the top eight times, and each time they were driven back by furious Japanese counterassaults. But the ninth assault held, and the ridge was taken, yet at a terrible cost. The battalion had arrived on April 29 with 800 men; a week later, there were 324 left standing.
Desmond was in the thick of things throughout, the only medic assigned to the attack. As the battle line shifted across the top of the escarpment, Desmond stayed behind, retrieving wounded men in the face of enemy fire. He carried them to the edge of the escarpment and lowered them one by one on a litter suspended from a rope. Others who were too badly wounded to move he treated on the spot, sometimes within yards of enemy-held caves. Officers motioned for Desmond to come off the ridge but he refused. Throughout the brutal assault, when wounded soldiers cried Medic, Desmond Doss came.
Pfc. Doss continued his heroic actions through the battle on Okinawa, suffering numerous wounds. On May 21, during a night attack, he was giving aid to wounded soldiers when a grenade landed nearby and seriously wounded his legs. Five hours later, litter bearers came to rescue him, but on the way to an aid station they were attacked by an enemy tank and Desmond gave his place in the litter to a more seriously wounded troop. While awaiting help, he was wounded in the arm by a sniper, and knowing he could not stay any longer on the battlefield, he fashioned a splint out of a rifle stock and crawled 300 yards to safety. The men of his unit, who had thought Desmond was dead, wept when they saw him return.
Desmond Doss left the Army as a corporal, missing one lung, six ribs and classified as 90 percent disabled. His heroism had not gone unnoticed. In October 1945, President Truman presented Doss with the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony. He was credited with saving at least 75 lives on Okinawa. The citation read that his name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty. He was the first conscientious objector to receive this high honor.
I wasnt trying to be a hero, Desmond said in a 1987 interview. I loved my men, and they loved me. I dont consider myself a hero. I just couldnt give them up. Desmond Doss died in March, 2006, and is buried in the National Cemetery in Chattanooga, Tenn.
| 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.
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.
|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."
In July 2008, the guest house at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. was renamed Doss Memorial Hall.
On August 30, 2008, a two-mile stretch of Alabama Highway 9 in Piedmont was named the "Desmond T. Doss, Sr. Memorial Highway."
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.
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