Desmond Doss The Real Life Hero of Hacksaw Ridge

Created on Nov 03, 2016 by Kathy Pinna
Desmond Doss, born in Virginia in 1919, was the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor. (There have been only 3 in total, the other 2 were in Vietnam.) He was a Seventh-Day Adventist who took to heart the Sixth Commandment (Thou Shalt Not Kill) so although he wanted to serve his country during World War II, he would not carry a gun. He asked to be a medic instead and through a lot of effort and time on his part (and resistance on the part of the Army), his request was finally granted.

He saved (by his count 50, by the Army's count 75) men in the Battle of Hacksaw Ridge and was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his brave efforts. He was also left with one lung due to contracting TB and lost five ribs from injuries (along with most of his hearing due to the antibiotics used to treat the TB). After World War 2, he returned home to his wife and bought a small farm in Georgia. He died in 2006.

This is his true story (all quotes are from The Conscientious Objector Documentary):

Desmond Doss The Real Life Hero of Hacksaw Ridge

Desmond Doss

Desmond Doss

"I've pictured Christ for savin' life, I wanna be like Christ go savin' life instead of takin' life and that's the reason I take up medicine."

Mr & Mrs Desmond Doss

Dorothy and Desmond Doss

On August 17, 1942, he married Dorothy Schutte - before he went on active duty. "He appreciated me because I've never kissed any other men. He was the first one I ever kissed."

In World War II, a white feather came to symbolize pacifism and courage

In World War 1, a white feather had been considered a mark of cowardice
Desmond Doss

The Army labeled him a "conscientious objector" but he called himself a "conscientious cooperator." He believed that the war was just but that it was wrong for him to kill.


While there is no Adventist teaching prohibiting being a soldier, the church encourages pacifism

This is the actual bible that Doss carried
Desmond Doss' Bible

"They made fun of me," says Desmond, who always carried a Bible in his pocket and prayed before bed. They called him "Holy Jesus" and "Holy Joe."

Jack Glover first thought that Doss should be transferred

After fighting with him, he changed his mind
Jack Glover

"He was one of the bravest persons alive, and then to have him end up saving my life was the irony of the whole thing."

Desmond and Dorothy Doss

Desmond Doss and wife

"When the train pulled out, I waved goodbye to her, and I tell you, it leaves you a very low feeling, knowing you may have seen your wife for the last time," recalled Desmond. "I tell ya it's hard to keep from cryin', but I try not to cry because we want to be brave to encourage each other. But the tears came through after the train pulled out."

Back to Top