The story of one remarkable soldier
On this Veterans Day, as we pause to honor all of this nation's veterans, this article focuses on the story of one soldier many Americans have never heard of — Desmond Doss.
April 29, 1945. On that day, Desmond Doss and Company B were climbing the 400-foot rugged cliff called Hacksaw Ridge (Okinawa) into a hellish battle of World War II. When 500 of the 800 men were killed or wounded, this Battalion withdrew.
Except for one.
Desmond Doss stayed, and — alone — in harm's way crawled over the battlefield searching for injured soldiers left behind still alive. He successfully — against impossible odds — began securing each injured soldier to a rope (by placing his legs in the now-famous double-loop rope knot) and lowering him by rope over and down the 400-foot cliff to medical help. Each time he was successful, he prayed to God that he save "one more."
Then "one more." And "one more," repeated prayers until he had crawled back and forth among enemy fire to rescue 75 left-behind dying soldiers.
"Hacksaw Ridge" is the just-released film that is showing in movie theaters across the nation this week (including here at Michigan City's AMC). It is the moving story of Desmond Doss who had joined the Army with two strongly-held convictions: 1-To serve his country; 2-Not to carry a gun due to his religious beliefs, two seemingly incompatible positions. But, he succeeded in his goal to become a medic and serve his country without carrying a gun.
Desmond Doss, himself, was critically wounded and taken to a hospital after rescuing 75 of his men single-handedly — but had lost his treasured pocket Bible.
Hearing of this, Company B searched the battlefield to find his lost Bible and had it taken to him at the hospital, as their gift to him.
Desmond Doss — the "Unlikeliest Hero" — was presented with the following medals:
• Medal of Honor.
• Bronze Star with one oak leaf cluster.
• Purple Heart with two oak leaf clusters.
• Army Presidential Unit Citation.
• Meritorious Unit Commendation.
• Good Conduct Medal.
• American Campaign Medal.
• Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three 3/16" bronze stars.
• World War II Victory Medal.
• Army of Occupation Medal.
• Philippine Liberation Medal with one 3/16" bronze star.
And was given, years later, a military 21-gun-salute at his funeral.
On this Veterans Day — Nov. 11th, 2016 — we honor all of the many veterans who have served this country. Thank you, Desmond Doss! Thank you, all veterans!