[Much belated post for the past weekend civic holiday. The HS has been pestering me to share this man’s life. He won.]
TBN, one of six broadcast channels we receive through our bunny ear antenna, aired the documentary, The Conscientious Objector a few times. I was shocked this pro-militarism Christian network would do that. Jeff and I watched it with a box of kleenex between us. Powerful, incredibly powerful.
Desmond Doss was a Seventh Day Adventist who was drafted into the Army during WWII. He refused to touch a weapon during the entire war. He said his mission was to save lives and not to take them. The Army granted Doss the position of medic so he could fulfill God’s call.
He went into combat on Okinawa, on the most bloodiest part of the island, The Escarpment. Over and over again, the enemy had clear sight of Desmond, but their guns jammed or they just didn’t shoot him. If Desmond prayed for the Company, not a man was wounded that day. Miracles surrounded him.
Desmond also made it his prerogative to minister to the severely wounded men first, the reverse of his battlefield triage training. He also helped the wounded enemy soldiers and civilians. “As long as there was life in a man, there was hope.”
In the final battle to claim The Escarpment, Desmond pulled off 80 wounded or dead soldiers from the top of the hill, under heavy enemy fire and lowered them down to safety with a rope. When he ran back for another soldier, he prayed, “Lord let me save one more!”
No one was left behind.
Desmond was eventually wounded in the arm and leg. When the other medics were carrying him out, they passed another, more gravely injured man on the ground. Doss told the medics to put him down and carry the other man to safety first. The enemy launched an attack and Desmond had to crawl 300 yards to the medic station.
Somewhere along the way, he dropped his small Bible that he had used all through his Army experience. His buddies from the Company went back and combed through the still dangerous territory to find it. They did find it and sent it back to the ship where Desmond was recuperating.
When President Truman awarded the Medal of Honor to Desmond Doss, he said, “I consider this a greater honor than being the President.”
Mr. Doss went onto full disability because of his injuries and because of the TB he contracted on Okinawa. The doctors overdosed his antibiotics which left him permanently deaf. He retired to a small farm and raised his family in peace.
I really encourage you, if at all possible to see this documentary. There are some gruesome battlefield newsreel clips, so do not include your less than 16 year old children.