Desmond Thomas Doss (February 7, 1919 – March 23, 2006) was a United States Army corporal who served as a combat medic with an infantry company in World War II. After distinguishing himself in the Battle of Okinawa, he became the first conscientious objectorto receive the Medal of Honor for actions above and beyond the call of duty. He is also the only conscientious objector to receive the medal during World War II.
Before the outbreak of World War II, Doss was employed as a joiner at a shipyard in Newport News, Virginia. Doss enlisted – despite being offered a deferment for his shipyard work – and entered military service on April 1, 1942 at Camp Lee, Virginia. He was sent to Fort Jackson in South Carolina for training with the reactivated 77th Infantry Division. Meanwhile, his brother Harold Doss served aboard the USS Lindsey. Doss refused to kill an enemy soldier or carry a weapon into combat because of his personal beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist. He consequently became a medic assigned to 2nd Platoon, B Company, 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. While serving with his platoon in 1944 on Guam and the Philippines, he was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for aiding wounded soldiers under fire. During the Battle of Okinawa, he saved the lives of 75 wounded infantrymen atop the Maeda Escarpment. Doss was wounded four times in Okinawa, and was evacuated on May 21, 1945 aboard the USS Mercy.
Doss was also featured in the Medal of Honor Special comic written by Doug Murray and published by Dark Horse Comics. The comic was a special edition of the series Medal of Honor, published April 1, 1994. The title was sanctioned by the United States Congressional Medal of Honor Society. The issue features Corporal Desmond Doss along with another Medal of Honor recipient, Lieutenant Charles Q. Williams.
Doss is the subject of The Conscientious Objector, an award-winning documentary in 2004. He is also the subject of the book The Unlikeliest Hero.
The feature film, Hacksaw Ridge, based on his life, was directed by Mel Gibson and was released nationwide in the U.S. on November 4, 2016 to positive reviews. In the film, Doss is played by Andrew Garfield, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance.