Congressional Medal of Honor Winner Dies

By: Rebecca Baerg,Georgia-Cumberland Conference
Date: 03/23/06
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Desmond T. Doss
1919-2006

Desmond T. Doss, Sr., has died at 87 years of age. He was the only contentious objector to win the Congressional Medal of Honor during World War II and a long-time member of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Doss passed away Thursday morning, March 23, 2006, at his residence in Piedmont, Alabama. He is survived by his wife Frances, his son, Desmond T. Doss, Jr., and his brother, Harold Doss. He was preceded in death by his first wife Dorothy Schutte and his sister Audrey Millner.

Doss never liked being called a contentious objector. He preferred the term contentious cooperator. Raised a Seventh-day Adventist, Doss did not believe in using a gun or killing because of the sixth commandment which states, Thou shalt not kill (Exodus 20:13). Doss was a patriot however, and believed in serving his country.

During World War II, instead of accepting a deferment, Doss voluntarily joined the Army as a contentious objector. Assigned to the 307th Infantry Division as a company medic he was harassed and ridiculed for his beliefs, yet he served with distinction and ultimately received the Congressional Medal of Honor on October 12, 1945 for his fearless acts of bravery.

According to his Medal of Honor citation, time after time, Doss fellow soldiers witnessed how unafraid he was for his own safety. He was always willing to go after a wounded fellow, no matter how great the danger. On one occasion in Okinawa, he refused to take cover from enemy fire as he rescued approximately 75 wounded soldiers, carrying them one-by-one and lowering them over the edge of the 400-foot Maeda Escarpment. He did not stop until he had brought everyone to safety nearly 12 hours later.

When Doss received the Medal of Honor from President Truman, the President told him, Im proud of you, you really deserve this. I consider this a greater honor than being President.

Doss exemplary devotion to God and his country has received nationwide attention. On July 4, 2004, a statue of Doss was placed in the National Museum of Patriotism in Atlanta, Ga., along with statues of Dr. Martin Luther King, President Jimmy Carter, and retired Marine Corps General Gray Davis, also a Medal of Honor recipient. Also in 2004, a feature-length documentary called The Conscientious Objector, telling Doss story of faith, heroism, and bravery was released. A feature movie describing Doss story is also being planned.

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