Desmond Thomas Doss Sr.


Desmond Thomas Doss Sr.

Lynchburg, Lynchburg City, Virginia, USA
Death 23 Mar 2006 (aged 87)
Piedmont, Calhoun County, Alabama, USA
Burial Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee, USA
Plot Section P #6399-A
Memorial ID 13711681 View Source
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World War II Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. He was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, and grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, whose tenets forbid bearing arms. When he was called to the draft, he declined a religious exemption that would have allowed him to continue working in a shipyard. He served in the Army with the designation of conscientious objector, but he detested that phrase. He preferred "conscientious cooperator." However, he still refused to learn to shoot a rifle. Sent to the Pacific, he saw combat on Leyte and Guam. He was serving as a Private First Class, with the Medical Detachment of the 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division, when his actions between April 29 and May 21, 1945, near Urasoe on Okinawa, earned him the nation's highest military award for bravery. His citation reads "He was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet high As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them 1 by 1 to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands. On 2 May, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within 8 yards of enemy forces in a cave's mouth, where he dressed his comrades' wounds before making 4 separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety. On 5 May, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small arms fire and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, Pfc. Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire. On 21 May, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Pfc. Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. Awaiting the litter bearers' return, he was again struck, this time suffering a compound fracture of 1 arm. With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to the aid station. Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Pfc. Doss saved the lives of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty." His Medal was awarded to him by President Harry S. Truman at the White House on November 1, 1945. Thus he became the first conscientious objector to the receive the MOH and one of only two conscientious objector recipients; the other being Thomas W. Bennett, who was an Army Corporal and medical aidman during the Vietnam War. He was the last surviving medic to earn the MOH in World War II. Ironically, on the same day of his death, Korean War Army Medic and MOH recipient David Bleak also died. Bleak was the last surviving medic recipient of the Korean War. He was the subject of a biography, "The Unlikeliest Hero," and a film documentary, "The Conscientious Objector."

Bio by: Ugaalltheway

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Erik Lander
  • Added: 23 Mar 2006
  • Find a Grave Memorial 13711681
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Desmond Thomas Doss Sr. (7 Feb 1919–23 Mar 2006), Find a Grave Memorial ID 13711681, citing Chattanooga National Cemetery, Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .