Lynchburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
PFC Desmond Thomas Doss
Desmond T. Doss was born in Lynchburg in 1919 and grew up in the Fairview Heights neighborhood. A Seventh Day Adventist and a pacifist, Doss was working at the Newport News Shipyard when WWII began. He was eligible for a deferment as a defense industry employee, but when drafted he reported to the Lynchburg Armory for induction in April 1942. A conscientious objector, he became a medic. During boot camp at Fort Jackson, S.C., officers and soldiers alike mistreated him for his religious beliefs, such as celebrating the Sabbath on Saturday.
Doss served in combat on Guam and Leyte and was awarded two Bronze Stars for bravery while treating the wounded. With the 77th Infantry Division during the Battle of Maeda Escarpment (Hacksaw Ridge) on Okinawa, he saved more than 75 men on May 5, 1945, by lowering them down a cliff one by one under intense fire using a rope knot he devised. Doss was wounded several times during the night of May 21-22. Carried off the battlefield on a stretcher, he gave up his place to another wounded soldier. Doss received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman on October 12, 1945. He was the first
When Doss returned to Lynchburg, his home town greeted him with a parade attended by thousands. He spent six years in hospitals recovering from his wounds. Doss died at his home in Piedmont, Alabama, on March 23, 2006, and is buried in Chattanooga, Tennessee, National Cemetery.
From the Medal of Honor Citation
"Private First Class Doss 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 machine gun 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 many stricken, carrying all 75 casualties one-by-one to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on the rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands. … One May 21, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by a grenade. … He waited 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. … 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. 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."
Desmond T. Doss appeared on the television program, This Is Your Life, in 1959. Terry Benedict completed a documentary film, The Conscientious Objector, about Doss in 2004. On November 4, 2016, the movie Hacksaw Ridge was released. Directed by Mel Gibson, the film is based on Doss's life and heroic acts.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & Religion • Peace • Science & Medicine • War, World II. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #33 Harry S. Truman, and the Medal of Honor Recipients series lists. A significant historical date for this entry is March 23, 2006.
Location. 37° 24.848′ N, 79° 8.613′ W. Marker is in Lynchburg, Virginia. Marker is on Monument Terrace just north of Court Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Lynchburg VA 24504, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. World War II (here, next to this marker); Korean War (a few steps from this marker); Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines of the Spanish American War (a few steps from this marker); Mr. Elder’s Rose Garden (a few steps from this marker); POW★MIA (a few steps from this marker); John Lynch (a few steps from this marker); Vietnam (within shouting distance of this marker); Lynchburg (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lynchburg.
Additional keywords. religious pacifism; Seventh-Day Adventism; Seventh-Day Adventists
Credits. This page was last revised on August 16, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 16, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 31 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on August 16, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.