The story behind the movie Hacksaw Ridge, recent winner of two Oscars, involves a young U.S. Army medic during World War II, Desmond T. Doss, whose religious conscience forbid him from killing another human being.
More Than A Movie
Ironically, director Mel Gibson’s movie projects are not shy about accentuating violence but this one is more than that. It is a story of deep religious conviction of a hero who risked his life to save life.
Doss served with the Medical Detachment, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division.
It was Doss’s bravery in saving the lives of his fellow soldiers that became legendary.
Believe It Or Not
If you did not know better, reading the Army’s citation of the events – which occurred near Urasoe Mura, Okinawa, Japan, from April 29 to May 21, 1945 – would make you think that you were reading fiction.
When Doss’ battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment four hundred feet high a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machine-gun fire ripped into them, inflicting approximately seventy-five casualties and driving the others back.
Doss remained on top of the escarpment amid enemy fire and carried all seventy-five casualties one by one to the edge of the escarpment and there lowered them on a rope-supported litter to safety.
Help Me Get One More
Terry Benedict’s documentary The Conscientious Objector records Doss saying that as he delivered each wounded man he prayed, “Lord, please help me get one more.”
On May 2, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man two hundred yards forward of the lines on the same escarpment. Two days later he treated four men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave. To do so, he had to go through a shower of grenades to within eight yards of enemy forces. There he dressed his comrades wounds before making four separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety.
This behavior continued almost daily.
From Maligned To Marvel
Commander Jack Glover told Doss in training, “You’re not going to be by my side if you don’t carry a gun.”
Now he marveled that Doss was absolutely fearless as to what was going to happen to him. On the frontline in combat after combat, action after action he refused to allow wounded soldiers to not be treated, refusing to withdraw under any circumstances.
Glover was among those whose life was spared because of Doss’s action during the Okinawa campaign. Despite the small-arms fire, the shells falling, Doss reached Glover, attended to him, and then carried him to safety.
On the night of May 21st Doss’s heroics came to an end.
He risked his life when a grenade was thrown into the pit where he was tending to a wounded soldier. He purposely put his foot on the grenade to shield the soldier.
The explosion ripped through Doss’s legs. He waited five hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. However, as he was being carried off the field he noticed a more critically wounded man and told the bearers to take that man.
While he waited for the litter bearers’ return, he was struck by a sniper bullet. He bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled three hundred yards over rough terrain to the aid station.
Missing Bible But Not Religion
When Doss was about to be put on an evacuation ship, he realized that his pocket Bible was missing. A number of volunteers risked their own lives in the line of fire to find his Bible. It took some searching, but the Bible was found and returned.
Religion is oft maligned as the cause of war. This story shines light on the positive impact religion and faith can have on society and in history.
How are you living out your faith and convictions? #LiveLikeDoss
APPLICATION: Have you seen the movie? What do you think? Please leave a comment below. Thank you.
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