In Memoriam: Desmond Doss
Doss grew up on Easley Street in Fairview Heights, where he forged his deeply held pacifist beliefs. He could have escaped military service in 1942 when he was working at the Newport News Shipyard in a job that had been classified as “essential,” and thereby exempt from the draft.
But he enlisted as a medic with the understanding that he would refuse to bear arms.
By the end of the war, one of his commanding officers from earlier days said, “The bravest man I ever knew was a soldier I tried to have thrown out of the Army.”
From the LA Times
His religious convictions made him an immediate misfit in boot camp, where he was exempt from KP and other duties on Saturdays because his denomination's Sabbath runs from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.
"The other men hated him for not pulling KP on Saturday," said Speer, adding that Doss was forced to make up for it during the week by doing extra KP and cleaning latrines.
Fellow soldiers threw shoes at Doss when he knelt beside his bunk and prayed. An officer threatened to have him court-martialed and at one point even tried to have him discharged as "mentally unfit."
Doss' refusal to carry a weapon so angered some in boot camp, he recalled, that one soldier vowed, "When we go into combat, Doss, I'm gonna shoot you myself."
As a company aid man for the 1st Battalion of the 307th Infantry, he was part of the battalion's assault on the heavily fortified Maeda Escarpment, a boulder-strewn slope that rises sharply and ends with a 30- to 50-foot-high rock cliff.
At the summit, the soldiers were met with heavy artillery, mortar and machine-gun fire. Those not killed or wounded were quickly driven back.
Doss, however, refused to leave the dozens of wounded behind.
His Medal of Honor citation says that Doss "remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them one by one to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands."
As he made his way to each wounded man, Doss later recalled, he prayed, "Dear God, let me get just one more."
He repeatedly braved enemy fire to aid the wounded and move them to safety. Then, during a night attack on May 21, Doss was tending to the wounded when a grenade exploded, shattering his legs.
Rather than calling for help, Doss treated his own injuries and waited five hours before two litter bearers reached him.
On their way to an aid station, the trio was caught in an enemy tank attack.
Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter and told the bearers to pick up the other man.
While waiting for the litter bearers to return, Doss was hit in an arm. Using a rifle stock as a splint for his shattered arm, he crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to the aid station.
For Doss' actions on Okinawa, his citation reads, "His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far and beyond the call of duty."
After returning from the war, Doss spent nearly six years in hospitals.
In addition to his wounds, during his service he had contracted tuberculosis, which led to the removal of a lung and five ribs.
Rest in peace, Corporal Doss.
P.S. Go give Blah3
a visit. Tell stranger YD said "hi."