Desmond Doss is a unique figure in the history of World War II. Sent to the Pacific to take part in the war effort there, his contribution was highly unusual but no less brave for that.
What did he do? He stepped onto the battlefield as a conscientious objector. Doss didn’t believe in conflict or bullets to resolve the world’s problems. Yet he decided to enlist and serve his country anyway, putting his life on the line according to his principles of kindness and peace and the a new video from Yarnhub tells his story.
Born in Lynchburg Virginia, 1919, his upbringing was devoutly religious. As a Seventh-Day Adventist he seemed an unlikely person to join the military. In fact he was offered the opportunity to stay put as a shipyard joiner once America decided to take on Hitler in late 1941. Doss turned this down.
Life in the ranks was reportedly tough for Doss. His fellow soldiers were surprised that someone like him was “fighting” alongside them. However, one major chapter of the Second World War saw him earning his offbeat stripes. He became a medic with the 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division.
His name entered the history books through the Battle of Okinawa, one of the bloodiest battles the US Army faced on the Asian-Pacific side.
This Japanese Island was the scene of ferocious fighting during the closing months of the war. Taking place between April 1st and Jun 22nd 1945, it pitted the Tenth Army against not only Japanese forces but the population of Okinawa itself.
The Japanese were resolute in their determination to keep Okinawa, with death coming from everywhere… especially the skies, in the form of devastating kamikaze strikes.
In the midst of this so-called “typhoon of steel”, Doss swept in to rescue approx 100 men, carrying them out of harm’s way at the location called “Hacksaw Ridge”.
He had no fewer than 17 bits of shrapnel in his body at one point. A sniper fractured his left arm with a bullet. Nonetheless, he survived and returned home a hero. A film of his life, ‘Hacksaw Ridge’, was directed by Mel Gibson in 2016. Andrew Garfield played Doss. The production won 2 Academy Awards.
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In addition to 2 Bronze Star Medals with “V” service, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, presented to him by President Truman. Doss is the only pacifist to have received the medal. He passed away in 2006, at the age of 87 in Piedmont, Alabama.