Valor Friday

| March 1, 2019

army moh

Today we honor Corporal Desmond Doss, USA and his incredible valor in the Pacific during World War II.

Desmond Thomas Doss (February 7, 1919 – March 23, 2006) was an Army corporal who served as a combat medic with an infantry company in World War II. He was twice awarded the Bronze Star Medal for actions in Guam and the Philippines. Doss further distinguished himself in the Battle of Okinawa by saving 75 men, becoming the only conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Second World War.

Before the outbreak of World War II, Doss was employed as a joiner at a shipyard in Newport News, Virginia. Doss entered military service, despite being offered a deferment for his shipyard work, on April 1, 1942, at Camp Lee, Virginia. He was sent to Fort Jackson in South Carolina for training with the reactivated 77th Infantry Division. Meanwhile, his brother Harold served aboard the USS Lindsey.

Doss refused to kill an enemy soldier or carry a weapon into combat because of his personal beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist. He consequently became a medic assigned to the 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division.

While serving with his platoon in 1944 on Guam and the Philippines, he was awarded two Bronze Star Medals with a “V” device, for exceptional valor in aiding wounded soldiers under fire. During the Battle of Okinawa, he saved the lives of 50–100 wounded infantrymen atop the area known by the 96th Division as the Maeda Escarpment or Hacksaw Ridge.

Doss was wounded four times in Okinawa, and was evacuated on May 21, 1945, aboard the USS Mercy. Doss suffered a left arm fracture from a sniper’s bullet and at one point had seventeen pieces of shrapnel embedded in his body. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Okinawa.

Citation: Private First Class Desmond T. Doss, United States Army, Medical Detachment, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. Near Urasoe-Mura, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, 29 April – 21 May 1945. 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.

Harry S Truman Signature

October 12, 1945


Hand Salute. Ready, Two!

Category: Army, Historical, Valor

Comments (13)

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  1. A Terminal Lance Coolie says:

    A true American hero.

    I will raise a glass to PFC Desmond Does tonight.

    Hand salute.

  2. A Terminal Lance Coolie says:

    Doss. I hate autocorrect.

    • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

      You and me both brother…..

      Lots of intestinal fortitude in Mr. Doss. Well deserved honors, and a generation once lost may never be found again.

  3. Outcast says:

    Far above and beyond the call of duty in his case set’s a very high standard for the Medal of Honor let alone the Bronze Star. Rest easy as you have earned it.

  4. 5th/77th FA says:

    Just….WOW! Shot to pieces and still dragging himself hither and yon to care for other wounded.

    Thank God that such men lived. BZ PFC Desmond Doss. You have our utmost respect.

    Thanks AW1Ed and he who wishes to remain anonymous for bringing these stories.

  5. CDR_D says:

    BZ. I just DVRd “Hacksaw Ridge” for future viewing.


  6. Mason says:

    Here’s how he describes it. So humble.

    He also saved some Japanese soldiers.

  7. Ex-PH2 says:

    Someone was keeping an eye on him….

  8. 5jc says:

    It was made in to an awesome movie too.

  9. Jay says:

    Saw Hacksaw Ridge quite a few times. I’m sure “creative license” took hold but to see just a GLIMPSE of what he went through…..and kept going back for more? My God, where do we get such men?

  10. Friend says:

    Doss also saved a group of Boy Scouts and leaders lost in a cave after the war…We found the information after googling his name..

  11. UpNorth says:

    Well done, Desmond Doss.

  12. 26Limabeans says:

    “he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to the aid station”

    Saved himself so he could continue to save others.