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"The army said I saved 100 men during one battle on Okinawa.

I said it couldn't be more than 50, so the citation on my Congressional Medal of Honor says 75."

_ Desmond T. Doss _

"Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind... War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today."

 _ John F. Kennedy _



Desmond Doss was a devout Christian who as a young man distinguished himself as a Medic in the US Army during World War II. 


Due to his religious and moral beliefs in refusing to carry any weapons he was designated the classification of Conscientious Objector, which offended Desmond, because of his willness to serve in the battle field. At the time individuals who were deemed conscientious objectors were viewed as cowards.


Desmond endured ridicule and harassment from his fellow soldiers during combat training as well as efforts on the part of his superior officers to discharge him from the Army.


Nevertheless he endured the bad treatment relying on his faith to give him the strength he needed to succeed as a soldier for the Country he loved.


In the end Desmond became one of our Country’s greatest military heroes when he saved 75 of his fellow soldiers during the battle for Okinawa. 


His heroism was displayed under intense enemy fire high on a 400 ft. ridge, where he single-handedly went into the battlefield to dress the wounds and then drag his buddies one at a time to the edge of the cliff where he lowered them to safety.


Many of these men were the ones who had previously mocked and ridiculed him. For his bravery he was awarded America’s highest military distinction, The Congressional Medal of Honor.


He is the only conscientious objector of World War II to have been accorded this recognition.

Permanently disabled from his war injuries, Desmond devoted the rest of his life to working with youth, church, civic, political and military groups telling his inspiring story. 

Desmond passed Away peacefully on March 23, 2006 with his wife Frances at his side. To the end of his life Desmond's faith in God, love of his Country and his fellow man remained as strong as ever. 




"Before I was born my father bought a illustration of the 10 Commandments. I looked at that picture hundreds of times as I grew up. The Sixth Commandment showed Cain killing Abel, and I wondered how a brother could do such a thing. It gave me such a horror of killing that I never wanted to kill or even hurt anyone. 


When the US went to war against Japan and Germany, my boss at the shipyard offered me a deferment as an essential worker. I did not want to be known as a draft dodger. I felt it was an honor to serve God and country, but I wanted to do it as a medic, by saving life instead of taking life. 


When I registered for the draft at 18, I said I wanted to be a non-combatant. But I was told there was no such classification and that I would have to be a conscientious objector. If I did not take that classification and - as a Seventh-day Adventist - wanted to keep the Saturday as the Sabbath or not carry a weapon, I would most likely be court-martialled. So there was nothing else I could do.


The reaction of the other soldiers and officers was pretty bad, having me around was not to their liking. I was not the kind of conscientious objector that so many were in those times, who would not salute the flag, wear the uniform or cooperate with the army in any way. But my comrades classed me with them. I did not try to tell them different, because they would not have believed me."



"The bullets were going near enough that I could practically feel them"


"One of my majors tried to have me discharged from the army, saying I was mentally off. I felt I would be a poor Christian if I would accept a discharge because of my religion. 


After we went overseas, my comrades began to realize that I would always be there to help them if they got wounded, their attitude changed. They knew I would come to their aid if I possibly could. From then on we had a very good relationship. 


Some of my men felt I should carry a weapon for protection, but I told them that would put my trust in God. They could do the fighting and I would do the patching. 


In May 1945, we were sent up on the top of a 400-foot-high cliff to fight the Japanese. I suggested to the lieutenant that we should have prayer, because we knew how many people had been killed on this escarpment."



"We knew how many people had been killed on this escarpment"


"One day we were given what we thought would be an easy mop-up job. Everything seemed to go wrong and we were finally told to retreat. But about 75 men were wounded and could not move. I was the only medic and I would not leave my men.


I stayed on top and let them down one by one over the escarpment, to where they could be taken on down to the aid station.


I kept praying: 'Lord, help me to get one more.' And He did help me. I got all the men down safely and I did not get a scratch from the bullets that were going near enough that I could practically feel them.


Going into battle helped me to realize how tragic wars, bloodshed and killing are. When anyone is killed it is a tragic thing. 


I have nothing against those who kill people in battle. It seems to be a necessary part of living. Soldiers must decide for themselves what it is right to do. But for me, it was wrong to kill and I felt I could not do it. I put my trust in God and made my decision to keep commandments."



Cpl. Desmond Thomas Doss, Sr. 

MOH 407th Infantry

February 7, 1919 - March 23, 2006



The National Cemetery in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga National Cemetery

Plot: Section P- Grave 6399A


April 4, 2006


On April 4, 2006, the only conscientious objector to receive a Medal of Honor in World War II was buried at a national cemetery with a 21-gun salute, although he refused to carry a weapon while serving as an Army medic.

Desmond T. Doss Sr., 87, died March 23 in Piedmont, Ala., where he and his wife, Frances, had been living with family.

A horse-drawn hearse delivered the flag-covered casket to the grave site Monday in the Chattanooga National Cemetery. Military helicopters flew overhead in a tribute formation.



Photo Credits  

The Desmond Doss Council

Life Sketch
Desmond Doss' Story
Desmond Doss' Burial with Honors
Desmond Doss' Burial, Photos
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