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The Soldier Who Saved Just “One More”

Remembering Adventist Army medic Desmond Doss on his 100th birthday

President Harry Truman awards Cpl. Desmond Doss the Medal of Honor. Photo courtesy of the Desmond Doss Council

President Harry Truman awards Cpl. Desmond Doss the Medal of Honor. Photo courtesy of the Desmond Doss Council

February 7, 2019, marks 100 years since Desmond Thomas Doss’s birth in Lynchburg, Virginia. Doss, who passed away in 2006, grew up to be one of the greatest examples of love and kindness of the century as he served as an unarmed U.S. Army medic in World War II. Not many would go into the bloodiest battle of the war without a weapon. Armed only with his faith and a prayer, the story of his courage and conviction is now known by millions, thanks to Mel Gibson’s movie, Hacksaw Ridge.

Doss didn’t set out to be a hero, but his story shows how faith, love, and patriotism can change the world. (Just ask the families of the men he saved.)

A retreat was ordered during the battle on Hacksaw Ridge, Okinawa, Japan. But Doss refused to leave the wounded on the battlefield. He went back into the firefight to just save one. Then he went back again and again. Doss knew he couldn’t win the war by himself, but he could at least try to save one life at a time, including the very men who hated and distained him because of his faith and values. On that day, Doss saved at least 75 men.

Conviction and Courage

Desmond’s stance on keeping the Sabbath and refusing arms angered his commanding officers. His fellow soldiers thought his behavior odd and they bullied him. But Doss stayed true to his convictions. Eventually, he was allowed to serve as a medic and not carry a gun.

Doss became the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a single shot. Out of more than 3,500 heroic individuals to be awarded the Medal of Honor for “above and beyond the call of duty, only his citation reads,”FAR above and beyond the call of duty.”

For Doss’ heroics on the battlefield, President Harry Truman awarded Cpl. Desmond Doss the Medal of Honor, America’s highest award for courage under fire and risking his life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers.

In 12 hours, Doss accomplished more than just saving 75 men; his actions have touched and changed millions of people around the world. He will continue to be admired and respected for generations.

Just One More

There’s a real spiritual battle taking place in the world. Like Doss, we are also on enemy territory. Jesus asks us to fulfill “the Great Commission” by making disciples from every nation, tribe, and language. Doing this might seem hard for many of us. Instead of being overwhelmed by the task, however, what if we were to pray the simple prayer of Desmond Doss, “Lord, please help me get one more,” as we find ways to play a small part in God’s great rescue operation? 

Like Desmond, each of us can make a difference in someone’s life. Stand up for those who are bullied. Befriend people who are lonely. Encourage those who are down. Serve people in need. Forgive those who wrong you. Live like Doss, who lived like Jesus.

In a world where there is so much hatred, there is no better way to change the world, except helping to change one life at a time and making a difference in the lives of our fellow humans.

If someone such as Desmond Doss can make a difference, we can too. Who is your one more?

— Jeanie Allen and Roger Rusted are from the Desmond Doss Foundation; click here for more information.