The Top 19 Desmond Doss Facts: The Hero Of Hacksaw Ridge

Today, I want to talk to you about Desmond Doss.

People have been leaving movie theaters with tears streaming down their cheeks. The last time Mel Gibson did this to movie goers was with he movie The Passion of the Christ. With another faith based movie, Mel Gibson directs the movie Hacksaw Ridge.

Taken from true to life accounts, this movie portrays the life and actions of Desmond Doss, a hero of World War II who never killed or even carried a gun, but was awarded the nation’s highest medal for bravery.

The actor who played Spiderman in 2012, Andrew Garfield was deemed the actor to play the position of Desmond Doss, the hero of Hacksaw Ridge.

In today’s post, I am going to give you the top 19 Desmond Doss facts. After reading this I hope you will get tickets and take your family to see this movie.

Some of you may be saying, “Oh, another God movie trying to get me to go to church.” I doubt you will feel that way after seeing the movie.

I do think you will have a new outlook on God and faith when it is over, but I don’t see where it will push you into doing something you do not want to do.

Before I move forward with these 19 facts about Desmond Doss, let me first explain where Hacksaw Ridge was.

The Battle of Okinawa

World War II was raging and the Germans were near surrender, but in the Pacific, the Japanese were ferociously battling.

American forces were sweeping islands ridding them of the Japanese fighters and the next stronghold was Okinawa.

The Japanese were atop a major cliff called the Maeda Escarpment, otherwise known as Hacksaw Ridge. The soldiers have a mission to climb Hacksaw Ridge and drive the Japanese off.

They did so, but the Japanese counter-attacked killing and wounding many soldiers of the 307th Infantry Regiment.

This is when Desmond Doss performed to outstanding hero status. You will learn all that this man did in the facts below.

Top 19 Desmond Doss Facts

Fact #1: Born in 1919

On February 7th, 1919, William Doss, a carpenter, and Bertha Doss had a son in Lynchburg, Virginia. They named their newborn boy Desmond.

As Desmond grew, he often reflected on a picture that hung in the family home; it was of the Ten Commandments and showed Cain killing his brother Abel on the 6th Commandment and Desmond always questioned how any man could kill another.

Fact #2: Joined the United States Army in 1942

When the news came that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Desmond felt an obligation to serve his country. He joined the Army in 1942.

Fact #3: Conscientious Objector

Desmond was adamant that he would not carry a gun or kill another human. Desmond was a devout Seventh Day Adventist – They do not believe in war or killing, and their Sabbath is on Saturday.

During basic training, Desmond was ridiculed and leadership tried hard to get him discharged to no avail.

Desmond endured the threats and harsh treatment and was set to be deployed as a medic with B Company, 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division to the Pacific theater.

Fact #4: As a Medic

Where could the Army use a soldier that would not kill or carry a gun? Desmond was made a medic. His job was not to kill, but to try to save people.

Fact #5: Desmond gets Married

Before deploying to the Pacific, Desmond wed Dorothy Schutte in 1942. Dorothy and Desmond did have a son and named him Desmond Jr.

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Fact #6: Guam

The first deployment was to Guam. Desmond served with his unit there in 1944.

Fact #7: Philippines

Desmond also was deployed to Leyte in the Philippines in 1944 where he was awarded 2 Bronze Stars for Valor.

Fact #8: Okinawa

In 1945, Desmond and his unit were sent to Okinawa where the Japanese were dug in deep.

Fact #9: Wounded 3 Times

During the battle of Okinawa, Desmond Doss was wounded three times.

As you will see further down, those wounds did not stop him from doing the job the Army gave him and more importantly, the mission God gave him.

Fact #10: Number of Lives Saved by Doss

Desmond was a humble man and when the subject came up of how many men he saved at Hacksaw Ridge, Desmond said probably around 50.

When soldiers who were there were asked, they claimed he number was 100 or so.

It was decided hat the difference would be split, and the figure is claimed that Desmond Doss saved 75+ soldiers during the Battle of Okinawa.

Fact #11: Only Soldier

Desmond Doss was the only conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor during World War II.

Fact #12: What He Accomplished

When you read the complete citation for Desmond Doss’ Medal of Honor, it could be quite easy to think it is fiction.

When President Harry Truman hung the award around Desmond’s neck, the President stated that he considered Desmond had a more honorable position than he did as leader of the United States.

The award covered the period of April 29th to May 21st 1945.

The first action was when they climbed Hacksaw Ridge and the Japanese attacked ferociously.

There were dead and wounded all over and Desmond risked himself by carrying the 75 soldiers off the edge and lowering them using a rope and a knot he learned as a young man.

On May 2nd, Desmond raced out into heavy fire to save a man.

On May 4th, he dressed the wounds of 4 soldiers who attacked a cave with enemy forces.

Many grenades were thrown trying to stop him, but he made it to the men and after treating them, he carried each one to safety while under heavy fire.

One day later, he treated an artillery officer and moved him to a safe area where he gave him plasma.

That same day, Desmond crawled to a severely wounded soldier who was down within 25 feet of the enemy; after treating the soldier, he carried him to safety about a football field’s length.

And, on May 21st at night, Desmond was out aiding injuries when he was hit by shrapnel from a grenade.

He treated his own wounds and waited 5 hours to be taken to safety.

But it was not safety as they were attacked by Japanese tanks.

Desmond directed the medics to care for other injured instead of his by getting off the litter.

He was again hit by a bullet that shattered his arm.

He made a splint and crawled to safety.

Fact #13: Tuberculosis

Just before leaving the Army, Desmond was diagnosed with tuberculosis and it resulted in his losing one of his lungs.

Fact #14: Discharge

Corporal Desmond Doss was discharged from the United States Army in 1946 and he spent many days in hospitals being treated for all the injuries he received.

Fact #15: Dorothy Dies

In 1991, Dorothy, Desmond’s wife was killed in an automobile accident.

Fact #16: Remarriage

In 1993, Desmond remarried a woman by the name of Frances Duman.

Fact #17: Desmond Passes On

On March 23rd, 2006, Desmond Doss had trouble breathing with his one lung. He passed on at 87 years of age in Piedmont, Alabama.

Fact #18: Awards and Honors

Desmond Doss received:

  • The Medal of Honor
  • The Bronze Star with the V device and 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • The Purple Heart with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
  • The Army Presidential Unit Citation
  • and many more

Part of Georgia Highway 2 is named the Desmond Doss Medal of Honor Highway.

The guest house at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is named Doss Memorial Hall.

Part of Alabama Highway 9 is named Desmond T. Doss Sr. Memorial Highway.

Part of Route 501 near Lynchburg, Virginia is honored with Desmond’s name.

A school in Lynchburg is named Desmond T. Doss Christian Academy founded by Desmond’s home Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Desmond visited he school several times.

Fact #19: Desmond in Film and Print

Many filmmakers had wanted to make a movie about Desmond, but none could tell the complete truth so Desmond would not agree.

When Hacksaw Ridge was brought to Desmond’s son, it was agreed that the story was quite near the truth and an agreement was made.

Desmond has been featured in other films and shows:

  • In 1959, Desmond was on the hit show This Is Your Life.

  • Desmond was featured in a 2004 documentary called The Conscientious Objector
  • Desmond was the lead in the book titled The Unlikeliest Hero

Final Thoughts

I believe this man was greatly used by God during World War II. No matter your spiritual beliefs, I do suggest you see Hacksaw Ridge. An amazing man and a great story all should see.

So let’s hear your thoughts about Desmond and Hacksaw Ridge. You can post them below. Thanks.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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