An Airman's Story: Lieutenant Colonel Betty Jane Williams

A Soldier's Story: Corporal Desmond Doss


Corporal Desmond Doss was born on February 7, 1919, in Lynchburg, Virginia. He attended Park Avenue Seventh Day Adventist School, leaving at the end of grammar school to begin working at a lumber company to help his family due to the Great Depression.   Corporal Desmond Doss then moved to Newport News to work at the Naval Shipyard as a joiner.

He enlisted in the US Army on April 1, 1942, in response to World War II, trained as a combat medic, and was assigned to the 77th Infantry Division. However, Corporal Desmond Doss refused to carry a weapon because he was a devoutly practicing Seventh-Day Adventist and, therefore, religiously a pacifist. As a result, his early months in the US Army were challenging. His teammates felt he compromised the safety of his unit, and Corporal Desmond Doss faced court-martial.  



In 1944 the attitudes of his unit and superiors changed when Corporal Desmond Doss earned two bronze stars during the Battles of Guam and the Philippines for bravery in aiding wounded soldiers under fire and in 1945, during the Battle of  Okinawa, Corporal Desmond Doss would earn the Congressional Medal of Honor for continuing to help wounded men under fire while on Hacksaw Ridge. Corporal Desmond Doss saved at least 75 men, lowering some from the top of the hill in a cargo net, despite being wounded four times. He also kicked a grenade away from a wounded man. Corporal Desmond Doss was evacuated on May 21, 1945. 

After the war, Corporal Desmond Doss moved to Rising Fawn, Georgia, where he owned a small farm. He struggled a great deal physically from the residual of his war wounds and tuberculosis, which he had contracted during his recovery and cost him five ribs and one of his lungs.  

Corporal Desmond Doss retired to Piedmont, Alabama, where he died on March 23, 2006. He rests at the Chattanooga National Cemetery in Chattanooga, Tennesse.


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a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

In addition to the travel writings at www.takethebackroads.com, you can also read her book reviews at www.riteoffancy.com and US military biographies at www.everydaypatriot.com

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