On april 1, 1942, desmond doss joined the united states army. little did he realize that one day he would be standing on the white house lawn, receiving the nation's highest award for his bravery and courage under fire.
in world war ii only 431 received the congressional medal of honor. one of these was placed around the neck of a young man, who during combat had not killed a single enemy soldier. in fact, he refused to carry a gun. his only weapons were his bible and his faith in god.
president harry s. truman warmly shook the hand of corporal desmond thomas doss, and then held it the entire time his citation was read aloud to those gathered outside the white house on october 12, 1945. "i'm proud of you," truman said. "you really deserve this. i consider this a greater honor than being president."
in may, 1945, as german troops were surrendering on the other side of the world, japanese troops were fiercely defending, to their last man, the only remaining barrier to an allied invasion of their homeland. the men in desmond's division were repeatedly trying to capture the maeda escarpment, an imposing rock face the soldiers called hacksaw ridge. after the company had secured the top of the cliff, the americans were stunned when suddenly enemy forces rushed them in a vicious counterattack. officers ordered an immediate retreat. soldiers rushed to climb back down the steep cliff. all the soldiers except one.
the rest lay wounded, scattered across enemy soil abandoned and left for dead, if they weren't already. one lone soldier disobeyed orders and charged back into the firefight to rescue as many of his men as he could, before he either collapsed or died trying. his iron determination and unflagging courage resulted in at least 75 lives saved that day, may 5, 1945.
desmond was severely wounded. hiding in a shell hole with two riflemen, a japanese grenade landed at his feet. the explosion sent him flying. the shrapnel tore into his leg and up to his hip. he treated his own wounds as best he could. while attempting to reach safety, he was hit by a sniper's bullet that shattered his arm. his brave actions as a combat medic were done. #medalofhonor #hacksawridge #usa