Thursday, March 23, 2006

WWII hero Desmond Doss dies

They don't make Christian pacifists like they used to, as my former employer, the Calhoun (Ga.) Times reports:

Desmond T. Doss, Sr., the only conscientious objector to win the Congressional Medal of Honor during World War II, has died. He was 87 years old.

Doss never liked being called a conscientious objector. He preferred the term conscientious 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 conscientious 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, “I’m proud of you, you really deserve this. I consider this a greater honor than being President.”

By the way, May 5, 1945 was a Saturday -- Sabbath, a holy day on which Doss was not normally required to serve. But he knew his Bible: "Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?" (Luke 6:9)

When we lived in Rome, Ga., my wife and I went to church with Mr. Doss's granddaughter, Tracy, and her husband Mike.

-- McCAIN

UPDATE: I wrote Mr. Doss' obituary for The Washington Times, and later linked for a Memorial Day tribute.