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The Conscientious Objector


When the news began to spread concerning the death of Desmond Doss the thoughts that began to run through the minds of people that knew him or had read concerning him was, of a man that put God before himself and everything else, a man that put his fellow man before himself. An example of this is seen as he was being carried by the medics after he was wounded. As they were headed for help Desmond noticed one of his buddies on the grounded that had been wounded and said, “That man is worse off than I am take him and let me stay here.” He rolled off the stretcher on to the ground as he finished those few words. The other man put on the stretcher and off to the medic tent for care. You would say that’s just like Doss!

Desmond Doss was the only conscientious objector to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. The highest honor that can be given by the United States.

One of the chaplains in the military, George Torres, said of Doss, “I have always looked on Doss as a hero.” “In everything he did he truly modeled what it means to be an army of one. “ and yet he always understood what it meant to give sacrificially and give it all to his country.”

What impacted people the most about Doss, was not the Medal of Honor; it was his Christ like character. He was courageous for Christ. , yet he remained humble. His life was centered on love–for God and for his country.

After coping with failing health for a number of months, Desmond Doss passed away on March 23, 2006, in Piedmont, Alabama, where he and his wife moved to be closer to family. In his 87 years of life, Desmond Doss influenced thousands of people, spanning multiple generations. A funeral service was held for Desmond Doss at the Collegedale Seventh-day Adventist Church on April 1, 2009, with approximately 1,600 people in attendance. Another 1200 people viewed the funeral service through a live web cast on the Georgia Cumberland Conference web site at

More than 500 people attended the burial service on April 3, 2006, when Doss was laid to rest at the Chattanooga National Cemetery with full military honors.

In his life, Desmond Doss brought glory to God. As Patti Parks, director of the Medal of Honor Museum and retired Navy Commander said at Doss burial service on April 3, “He remained true to his convictions, even when it was not the most popular thing to do. He always kept God close, asking for guidance when times were hard, and offering thanks when times were good.”

In the beginning Doss was made fun of because of his religious beliefs and Bible reading. But as time went by many times the unit he went out with was the only unit to return without any causalities. Now the men begin to respect Doss’s trust in prayer and didn’t want to out without him.

One time there was an attack planned to take place at a certain time and Doss was the only medic that was able to go. Doss said, “if you will wait for me to have my devotional I would be willing to go.” They had learned to respect Doss’s prayers. The attack was held up for twenty minutes for Doss to read his Bible and pray. That does not happen very often while in the heat of battle. After about twenty minutes, He said, “men I’m ready.” The battle was on and victorious.

According to his Medal of Honor citation, time after time, Doss’s fellow soldiers witnessed how unafraid he was for his own safety. He was always ready to help a wounded man, no matter how great the danger. On one occasion in Okinawa, he refused to take cover from the enemy fire as he rescued approximately 75 wounded soldiers, carrying them one by one and lowering them some 40 feet over the edge of the 400 -foot escarpment to fellow soldiers below. He did not stop until he brought everyone to safety, nearly 12 hours. He said he could hear the bullets whizzing by his head, but he said, “Lord let me get one more!  After the hill was taken it is said that one of the Japanese soldiers said he could see Doss and had him in the sights of his rifle a number of times but could never hit him. 

When President Truman presented the Medal of Honor to Desmond Doss, He said, “I’m proud of you, you really deserve this. I consider this a greater honor than being president.”  On July 4, 2004, a statue of Doss was placed in the national Museum of Patriotism in Atlanta, Georgia, along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President Jimmy Carter and retired Marine Corps General Gray Davis, also a Medal of Honor recipient. Also in 2004 a feature-length documentary titled “The Conscientious Objector” telling of Doss’s story of faith, heroism, and bravery, was released. A feature movie describing Doss’s story is also being planned.

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