Doss, Desmond Thomas “Tommy”.

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Doss, Desmond Thomas, “Tommy”, born 07-12-1919 in Lynchburg, Virginia, the son of William Thomas Doss, a carpenter, and his wife Bertha E. Doss, born Oliver, a homemaker and shoe factory worker. His mother raised him as a devout Seventh Day Adventist and instilled Sabbath keeping, nonviolence, and a vegetarian lifestyle in his upbringing. He grew up in Fairview Heights, Virginia, alongside his older sister Audrey and younger brother Harold.

Doss attended the Park Avenue Seventh-day Adventist Church school until the eighth grade, and subsequently found a job at the Lynchburg Lumber Company to support his family during the Great Depression.

Before the outbreak of World War II, Doss was employed as a joiner at a shipyard in Newport News, Virginia. Doss enlisted – despite being offered a deferment for his shipyard work – and entered military service on 01-04-1942 at Camp Lee Virginia    He was sent to Fort Jackson in South Carolina for training with the reactivated 77th Infantry Division “Statue of Liberty” under command of Major General Robert Lawrence. Eichelberger .  Meanwhile, his brother Harold Doss served aboard the Uss Lindsey . Doss refused to kill an enemy soldier or carry a weapon into combat because of his personal beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist. Desmond had been raised with a fervent belief in the Bible. When it came to the Ten Commandments, he applied them personally. During childhood his father had purchased a large framed picture at an auction. It portrayed the Ten Commandments with colorful illustrations. Next to the words, “Thou shalt not kill” was a drawing of Cain holding a club and standing over the body of his dead brother Abel.  Little Desmond would look at that picture and ask, “Why did Cain kill Abel? How in the world could a brother do such a thing?” In Desmond’s mind, God said, “If you love me, you won’t kill.” With that picture firmly embedded in his mind, he determined that he would never take life. He consequently became a medic assigned to 2nd Platoon, B Company, 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry , 77th Infantry Division. Combat medics or Field medics (or medics) are military personnel who have been trained to at least an EMT level (16 week course in the U.S Army) and are responsible for providing first aid and front line trauma care on the battlefield. After distinguishing himself in the Battle of Okinawa, he became the first conscientious objector to receive the Medak Medal of Honor for actions above and beyond the call of duty. He is also the only conscientious objector to receive the medal during World War II. While serving with his platoon in 1944 on Guam and the Philippines, he was awarded a Bronze Star Medal  for aiding wounded soldiers under fire. During the Battle of Okinawa   , he saved the lives of more than 75 of his comrades who were stranded on a cliff, called Hacksaw Ridge, in the Battle of Okinawa. Doss was wounded four times in Okinawa, and was evacuated on 21-05-1945 aboard the USS Mercy.

President Harry Shipp Truman warmly shook the hand of Corporal Desmond Thomas Doss

  and then held it the entire time his citation was read aloud to those gathered outside the White House on 12-10-1945. “I’m proud of you,” Truman said. “You really deserve this. I consider this a greater honor than being president.”


After the war, Doss initially planned to continue his career in carpentry but extensive damage to his arm left him unable to do so.In 1946, Doss was diagnosed with tuberculosis which he contracted in Leyte. He subsequently underwent treatment for five and a half years – which cost him a lung and five ribs – before being honorably discharged in August 1951 with 90% disability. Doss continued to receive treatment from the military but after an overdose of antibiotics rendered him completely deaf in 1976, he was given 100% disability; he was able to regain hearing after receiving a cochlear implant in 1988. Despite the severity of his injuries, Doss managed to raise a family on a small farm in Rising Fawn, Georgia.

Doss married Dorothy Schutte on 17-08-1942

  and they had one child, look a like, Desmond “Tommy” Doss Jr., born in 1946. Dorothy died on 17-11-1991 due to a car accident. Doss remarried on 01-07-1993 to Frances Duman


Death and burial ground of Doss, Desmond Thomas “Tommy”.

    Doss died on 23-03-2006 at his home in Piedmont, Alabama, after being hospitalized for difficulty breathing, the same day as another Medal of Honor recipient, David Bruce Bleak .On 14-06-1952, despite being wounded himself, Bleak rushed the Chinese troops multiple times and killed five Chinese soldiers—four using only his hands—before assisting the wounded, and shielding another soldier from a grenade blast. Bleak died on 23-03-2006, age 74, from emphysema, Parkinson’s disease, and complications from a hip fracture


A horse-drawn hearse delivered the flag-covered casket to the grave site while military helicopters flew overhead in a tribute formation. Desmond Thomas “Tommy” .´Doss was buried on 03-04-2006 at the National Cemetery in Chattanooga, Tennessee National Cemetery, Plot: Section P-Grave 6399A

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