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Rapid-Fire History: Desmond T. Doss - The Hero of Hacksaw Ridge


On Friday, October 12, 1945, President Harry Truman presented the Medal of Honor, the United States military’s highest decoration for valor, to Pfc. Desmond Thomas Doss. Born in Lynchburg, Virginia and raised as a strict Seventh Day Adventist, Doss’ faith forbade him from bearing arms. He received a military deferment, but feeling duty-bound to serve his country, Doss enlisted in the Army Medical Corps as a noncombatant. Although his conscientious objector status made military life difficult (he preferred the term “conscientious cooperator”), Doss remained committed to his religious convictions and displayed an unwavering commitment to saving lives.

Participating in the Battle of Okinawa and serving as an Army medical corpsman with the 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division, Doss went above and beyond the call of duty on several occasions from April 29 to May 21, 1945. During one incident in particular, Doss rescued some 75 wounded soldiers by dragging them to the edge of a 400-foot-high jagged cliff, nicknamed Hacksaw Ridge, and lowered them to safety in a rope sling. After each soldier was saved, Doss reportedly said, “Dear God, let me get just one more man.”

For his remarkable actions, Doss became the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor. Unwavering in his faith, courage, and conviction, Desmond Doss will forever serve as a reminder to the world of what it truly means to be an American hero.

Sources

History.com: Battle of Okinawa.

Library of Virginia: Dictionary of Virginia Biography - Desmond T. Doss.

Library of Virginia: Pres. Truman Presents Congressional Medal of Honor to Pfc. Desmond T. Doss. Photograph, 1945.

U.S. Army: Pfc. Desmond Doss: The Unlikely Hero Behind 'Hacksaw Ridge.'

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