Did you know that in 1945, Desmond Doss was awarded the US Medal of Honor? The US Medal of Honor is awarded to soldiers who perform an act of great valor or courage. Desmond Doss showed courage in many ways. Although his personal beliefs and religion were against violence, he entered military service to help his country during World War II. To uphold his beliefs, he did not carry a weapon and refused to kill enemy soldiers. Instead, he worked as a medic and during battles he searched for and saved wounded soldiers. During the fierce and dangerous Battle of Okinawa, he saved the lives of 75 wounded soldiers!
We hope that you act courageously today at school. Remember to think kind thoughts, use kind words, and do kind things. We Love You.
Desmond Doss is the only conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor during World War II.
Desmond Doss was also awarded two Bronze Star Medals.
Desmond Doss’ life and story has been the subject of books and movies. One documentary is The Conscientious Objector. Another movie was made in 2016 called, Hacksaw Ridge.
During his service, Desmond Doss was wounded four times. Eventually he was evacuated. Extensive damage to his arm made it impossible for him to continue his pre-war career in carpentry. He had also contracted tuberculosis during his service; during the course of treatment one lung and five ribs were removed. He also lost his hearing after an overdose of antibiotics.
From Desmond Doss’ Medal of Honor citation:
He was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet 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. Private First Class Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them 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 2 May, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and two days later he treated four men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within eight yards of enemy forces in a cave’s mouth, where he dressed his comrades’ wounds before making four separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety. On 5 May, 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, Private First Class Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire. On 21 May, 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 five hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Private First Class 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, this time suffering a compound fracture of one arm. With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to the aid station. Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Private First Class 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.