Remembering Desmond Doss [Main story]
esmond T. Doss, Sr., never liked being called a conscientious objector. He frequently said that he preferred the term “conscientious cooperator.”
Raised a Seventh-day Adventist, Doss did not believe in using a gun or killing because of the sixth commandment: “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13). Doss was a patriot, however, and believed in serving his country.
During World War II, instead of accepting a deferment, Doss voluntarily joined the Army as a conscientious objector. Assigned to the 307th Infantry Division as a company medic, he was harassed and ridiculed for his beliefs, yet served with distinction and ultimately received the Congressional Medal of Honor on October 12, 1945, for his acts of bravery.
The story of Doss’s heroism during the Battle of Okinawa is well known to many Adventists. As a conscientious objector, he refused to carry weapons, even when his commanding officers tried to break his will. Many fellow soldiers who had formerly derided him were among the wounded he rescued during the fierce fighting on Hacksaw Ridge. Doss risked his life repeatedly to lower at least 75 wounded men down a 100-foot cliff under withering enemy fire. The task took nearly 12 hours.
Doss’s devotion to God and his country received nationwide attention. On July 4, 2004, a statue of Doss was placed in the National Museum of Patriotism in Atlanta, Georgia, along with statues of Martin Luther King, Jr.; former U.S. president Jimmy Carter; and retired Marine Corps general Gray Davis, also a Medal of Honor recipient. In 2004 a feature-length documentary titled The Conscientious Objector, which tells Doss’s story of faith, heroism, and bravery, was released. Doss’s story has also been told twice in book form: The Unlikeliest Hero, by Booton Herndon (Pacific Press, 1967); and Desmond Doss, in God’s Care, by Frances Doss (The College Press, 1998).
Doss, the only conscientious objector to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor during World War II and a longtime member of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, died on March 23, 2006, at age 87.