As a compliment to next week’s lecture on combat medics in WWII, I decided to highlight one medic in particular. And since the Memorial is located only a stone’s throw away from Lynchburg, it is especially fitting that this medic was a Lynchburg native.
|PFC. Desmond T. Doss|
Desmond T. Doss, born and raised in Lynchburg, Virginia, was a combat medic in WWII. Doss, a devout Seventh Day Adventist, refused combat service for religious reasons yet still wanted to serve his country which is why he opted for medical service. He was assigned to the 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division’s medical attachment as a Private First Class. The 77th Division fought through the Pacific in WWII, and Doss faithfully tended its wounded along the way.
|Photo of one of the cliffs on Okinawa|
There are many miraculous stories of Doss’ heroism, but one stood out to me as I read about his exploits. In late spring 1945, Doss was with the 77th Division on Okinawa. A contingent of soldiers made their way up one of the steep slopes of the island as they battled with the Japanese. Suddenly the Americans found themselves trapped and under heavy fire. Some 50 or so men were able to retreat, but the rest were left stranded and many of them were wounded. Doss, always at the side of his fighting comrades, stayed behind to treat the wounded as the enemy inched closer. Using a rope and strecher, Doss managed to lower wounded soldiers one at a time down the steep 400-ft. embankment to safety. Doss is credited with saving approximately 75 lives in just that single day. For this action, and many others like it, Doss was awarded the nation’s highest military honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor. On October 12, 1945, Desmond T. Doss became the first conscientious objector to receive such a distinction.
To learn more about Desmond Doss and other heroic combat medics, come out to the Bedford Area Welcome Center next Wednesday, January 25th, at noon. Hear from local historian and great friend to the D-Day Memorial, Hugh Scrogham, as he shares about combat medics in WWII. In addition to the lecture, he will display many artifacts from his personal collection of WWII medical equipment. This program is free to the public, but donations are greatly appreciated.
I hope to see you there!