A Navy medic saved 75 soldiers in one of the bloodiest battles in World War II. The soldier, also a Seventh-day Adventist, did it all without a gun because he vowed never to kill.
Of course, this begs the question, how did he manage to save almost a hundred men, unarmed?
Desmond Doss was a Seventh Day Adventist from Lynchburg, Va. He was the skinny, quiet kid who strictly observed the rules to not work on the Sabbath and never touch a gun. Yet, he decided to enlist in the Army, becoming a combat medic to do some good. However, his beliefs did not make him too popular.
In their eyes, a soldier who wouldn’t touch a weapon was not very useful. Terry Benedict made a documentary about Doss called, The Conscientious Objector. Benedict said the Army made things difficult for Doss.
“It started out as harassment, and then it became abusive. They just saw him as a slacker. Someone who shouldn’t have been allowed in the Army, and somebody who was their weakest link in the chain.”Terry Benedict
In one interaction, Doss told Captain Jack Glover, ” ‘Don’t ever doubt my courage because I will be right by your side saving life while you take life.’ ” Glover’s response: ” ‘You’re not going to be by my damn side if you don’t have a gun.’ “
In 1945, the men had a treacherous feat ahead of them. They had to climb the steep, jagged cliff up to the top where the Japanese were waiting for them. The cliff was often called Hacksaw Ridge.
Mel Gibson re-created the ridge for his aptly named movie. Gibson said, “It was full of caves and holes, and the Japanese were dug in underground…The Japanese called it ‘the rain of steel’ because there was so much iron flying around.”
While gunfire and explosions went off around him, Doss crawled among the wounded, taking them to the edge, tying a rope around them, and lowering them to waiting medics on the ground.
Doss said he was praying the entire time. In the documentary, Carl Bentley, who fought in the battle, said, “It’s as if God had his hand on [Doss’] shoulder. It’s the only explanation I can give.”
In 12 hours, Doss saved 75 men, one of which was Jack Glover. Doss was given the Medal of Honor in 1945 by President Truman.