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Who was Desmond Doss of Hacksaw Ridge?

The first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor, Doss had a strong faith in God and reverence for the Bible as well as the Ten Commandments. While he didn’t carry a gun into battle, Doss was never unarmed. He carried with him his Bible and his undying faith.

Doss vs Ranger

Doss believed he should preserve life rather than take life based upon his personal application of the Sixth Commandment, therefore he chose not to carry a gun in combat. Because of his belief in the Sabbath and his desire to worship God, Doss did not work on the seventh day of the week—Saturday (Exodus 20:8-11). However, he picked up extra duties and worked long hours the rest of the week to make up for it.

What set Desmond Doss apart?

While Desmond Doss was in boot camp, his fellow soldiers made life difficult because he honored God. Even amid trials and torment, Doss held firm to his convictions. The choice to honor God and stick to his beliefs made many soldiers distrust his loyalties and character. Doss, however, was strongly committed to his country and division, which became evident in the Battle for Hacksaw Ridge on Okinawa in 1945.

In the following video, Desmond Doss recalls praying before his company’s assault on Hacksaw Ridge. In his company only one soldier was hurt by a rock, while other nearby companies suffered devastating losses. The Bible says that those who honor God, God will also honor (1 Samuel 2:30). God honored Desmond Doss’ prayer, and many lives were saved.

Infographic: Desmond Doss & Hacksaw Ridge the true story

Desmond Doss Infographic

Doss’ large impact

Although Desmond Doss probably never weighed more than 145 pounds, he could physically outperform the other soldiers in his unit. He was undersized, but his grit, determination and faith in God made up for any lack in physical size. This especially became clear when he saved the lives of 75 men on Hacksaw Ridge by carrying or dragging several of them over 100 yards, near the enemy’s front lines, then lowering them to safety.

Repeatedly, while in Okinawa, he braved heavy enemy fire to bring back his fallen comrades, who were often within only 25 feet of the Japanese forces. Doss, however, didn’t escape unharmed, he had to crawl 300 yards to safety after his legs were damaged by a grenade and his arm was shattered by gunfire.

Now what?

Consider what would have happened to those 75 wounded men if Desmond Doss had not risked his life to save them. You too can impact the lives of your family, friends and neighbors. They may not be on a physical battlefield, but they still have wounds—both physical and emotional—that need care. Why not protect your wounded classmate who is being bullied or heal a hurting friend with a word of encouragement? Why not stand up for what you believe, impact your world and help those who are wounded?

Related Article: The armor of God



Additional information & graphics

Desmond Doss was one of only 471 Medal of Honor recipients in World War II. Of these recipients, 58 percent received the decoration posthumously. Amazingly, Doss survived the Battle of Okinawa and the war, living until March 23, 2006. Doss was also the first of three conscientious objectors to receive the Medal of Honor and the only one of them to receive it while living.

What does Hacksaw Ridge look like today?

The following are links to resources including Google Maps and Street View that show what Hacksaw Ridge and Needle Rock look like today.

Hacksaw Ridge Photo
"HacksawRidge1" (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by polytropos

1) Hacksaw Ridge from a distance

2) Hacksaw Ridge looking north

3) Base of Hacksaw Ridge

4) Middle of Hacksaw Ridge

5) Panorama at Needle Rock

6) View looking up to Needle Rock


Desmond Doss lived his faith; you can too!

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