Desmond Doss: Unarmed U.S. Army Combat Medic Saves 75 Soldiers

 December 18, 2023

Desmond Doss, a U.S. Army Combat medic, singlehandedly 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 had taken a vow never to kill.

Of course, this begs the question, how did he manage to singlehandedly save almost a hundred men with no weapon?

Desmond Doss Army Training

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.' "

Hacksaw Ridge

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.



Desmond Doss' story is a testament to the power of faith and the human spirit. As a Seventh-day Adventist, Doss upheld his commitment to non-violence, even in the face of one of the deadliest battles of World War II.

Despite persistent challenges and disrespect from his fellow soldiers, he proved that his courage and determination were unshakeable. Desmond Doss saved 75 men on Hacksaw Ridge without ever carrying a weapon, earning the respect of his comrades and the highest U.S. military honor - the Medal of Honor.

His story continues to inspire and remind us that bravery takes many forms and that sometimes the most unexpected heroes can have the most profound impact.

Frequently Asked Questions About Desmond Doss

Who is Desmond Doss?

Desmond Doss was a U.S. Army Combat Medic who saved an astonishing 75 soldiers during one of the deadliest battles of World War II. Guided by his Seventh-day Adventist beliefs, Doss made a lifelong commitment never to kill, which led him to serve unarmed in battle.

What did Desmond Doss accomplish in World War II?

In a harrowing chapter of military history at Hacksaw Ridge, Doss managed to save 75 wounded soldiers without carrying any weapons. His courage and selflessness did not go unnoticed; he was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1945 for his actions.

How did Desmond Doss manage to save 75 soldiers without using any weapons?

Despite facing relentless gunfire and explosions, Doss crawled among the wounded, unarmed. He took each injured soldier to the edge of the battlefield, tied a rope around them, and single-handedly lowered them down to the waiting medics below.

What challenges did Doss face due to his beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist?

Doss's religious convictions were initially met with skepticism within the army. Fellow soldiers considered him a liability and questioned his usefulness since he wouldn't carry a weapon. Despite this adversity, Doss held firm to his beliefs, enduring harassment and abuse.

What is the significance of Hacksaw Ridge in Doss's story?

Hacksaw Ridge serves as a pivotal backdrop for Doss's unprecedented heroism. Despite not carrying any weapons, he managed to rescue 75 of his comrades amidst heavy gunfire and explosions, solidifying his legacy as an exceptional medic and hero.

How has Doss's story been documented for future generations?

Doss's remarkable story has been preserved in various forms, ensuring that his valor will not be forgotten. The documentary 'The Conscientious Objector' by Terry Benedict provides an in-depth look at his heroism. Additionally, the film 'Hacksaw Ridge' by Mel Gibson further immortalizes his courageous actions.

What was the reaction of Doss's fellow soldiers to his actions at Hacksaw Ridge?

While Doss initially faced doubt and even scorn from his fellow soldiers due to his beliefs, his actions at Hacksaw Ridge forever changed their perception. He not only gained their respect but also instilled a sense of awe for his bravery and resolve.

What honors and recognitions did Doss receive for his courageous efforts during the war?

For his exceptional bravery and unwavering commitment to saving lives, Desmond Doss was awarded the highest military honor in the United States, the Medal of Honor. President Truman presented the honor in 1945, sealing Doss's status as a genuine American hero.

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13 comments on “Desmond Doss: Unarmed U.S. Army Combat Medic Saves 75 Soldiers”

  1. My question to the jerks in Congress and at the Pentagon, why weren't the civilians evacuated first? We did this in Vietnam. Secondly why didn't we take the time to destroy are military equipment. There was no real planning for this operation. I served in the military for 40 years. Austin was a piss poor general and should have never been made Secretary of Defense. As seen by what is going on the Pentagon has become to politicize and should be forced into retirement. We in the military swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against foreign and domestic enemies. The blood of all those killed in the recent weeks lays on the hands of those who did nothing!!!!

    1. Gerry, another combat vet here. I have come to believe that Joe Biden cut a deal with the Taliban AND China. The military was ordered to leave that weaponry and equipment behind. The Taliban had advance knowledge of Biden's plans and were sitting on ready. Then as soon as they took control of the country China showed up to "inspect" the weapons and, I'm sure, take some back to China. Some of the weaponry is still classified.

  2. A real and true American Hero! He sure did his part, really have to admire him, God was with him, and those he helped save! He never gave up on his faith, and his commitment to save lives! Many men were saved because he did his job exceptionally well! Sure those men who were saved, were very thankful that he did what he did to save their lives! Great Story that needed to be told.

  3. The people who have been elected all the way from the House to the Senate to the Presidency, add on the CIA, the FBI, and all the bloated departments of the federal government, all have forgotten just why they have been hired (or voted) in. They are there to serve the country. Not themselves. The thirst for more and more power shows us that we must reduce the size of federal government massively and return agencies to the states where they can be watched more closely by the people. The House must stop giving themselves raises. For what they do and have done they should pay us, the taxpayers.
    They took an oath of office when elected. From what I see they cancelled that oath the minute that they entered the Capital building.

    1. Ed, you are mistaken, a little bit. I was an Army Medical Codpsman, AKA a “medic,” during the VietNam war: Military Occupational Speciality (“MOS”) 91A10, later 91B20. I drove an ambulance and worked in an orthopedic ward in the 249th General Hospital, at North Camp Drake, just outside Tokyo, Japan, from February 1966 to August 1967. As a draftee, my hitch (active duty portion) was 2 years - about a year and a half after completion of training at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas. The Navy used the name “Hospital Corpsman” for this same job, at that time. I later worked for the U.S. Navy, as a civilian. Navy “Corpsmen” accompanied Marine units in combat, as their “medics.”
      When my daughter was eight days old, I was able to use that old Army training to save her life through Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation, “CPR;” because she was strangling to death on spoiled baby formula - as her mother did not notice the date on the can before preparing it and putting our daughter to bed.

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