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Lest We Forget – Relive The Past

Hacksaw Ridge Real Story – Medal of Honor

August 16, 2016 joedemadio 1 Comment

I recently saw the trailer of Hacksaw Ridge and I thought it was interesting to tell you the story behind the movie.13696761_1574799542821298_1016290545_n Since the film is based on a true story, there will be spoilers in this post!

So the film is about Private Desmond Doss who won a medal of honor for his actions in the Pacific. Desmond Thomas Doss was born on the 7th of February 1919 in Lynchburg, Virginia. His dad, William Thomas Doss was a carpenter and he also had a mum Bertha E. Doss.

Desmond enlisted voluntarily for the army in 1942 at the age of 23. He refused to kill or cary a weapon into combat because of his personal believes as a Seventh-day Adventist. He then became a medic. While serving in the Pacific Theatre he helped his country by saving the lives of comrades while at the same time adhering to his religious convictions. Doss was a Private First Class in the Medical Detachment of the 307th Infantry Regiment of the 77th Infantry Division With this in the back of our heads, his Medal of Honor citation is what the film is based on. The place and date of his citation says: near Urasoe Mura, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands

The citation reads:
He was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet high. As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying all 75 casualties one-by-one to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands. On May 2, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within eight yards of enemy forces in a cave’s mouth, where he dressed his comrades’ wounds before making 4 separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety.

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On May 5, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small arms fire and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, Pfc. Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire. On May 21, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Pfc. Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. Awaiting the litter bearers’ return, he was again struck, by a sniper bullet while being carried off the field by a comrade, this time suffering a compound fracture of one arm. With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to the aid station. Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Pfc. Doss saved the lives of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.

In the trailer of Hacksaw Ridge film we were clearly able to see the first part of the Medal of Honor citation. No doubt that most of the other parts might be in the film. Nowadays the Ridge still excists on the Island of Okinawa. I’ve done a little research to show you where all of this happend and in which area Doss performed his heroical actions. I also found a picture of Doss standing on the escarpment

The name Hacksaw Ridge comes from the name Maeda Escarpment, which was named after the village of Maeda. The Allies gave it the name Hacksaw Ridge and you could guess why they did. Doss’s unit, the 307th infantry, replaced the 381st infantry which you can see it’s position on the map

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When the 307th Infantry moved into the line on 29 April, it found itself on the flat top of an escarpment which at its eastern end at the Needle Rock was not more than two feet wide. From this point westward the escarpment crest gradually widened until it was from 200 to 150 feet across. The reverse slope dropped abruptly, but its height was not as great as that of the northern face. It was on this reverse (southern) slope of the escarpment that the Japanese had their intricate network of caves and tunnels connecting with pillboxes on top of the escarpment. The nature of this underground fortress is illustrated by an incident of 2 May. On that day a tank fired six phosphorus shells into a cave and within fifteen minutes observers saw smoke emerging from more than thirty other hidden openings along the slope.

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Click on this link to Google Street View around the Hacksaw Ridge and just imagine what might’ve happend there. It’s also crazy to see that the area is fully build on. I would definitely love to some archeological research myself. In the trailer and on the picture where you can see Doss standing on the Hacksaw Ridge you can clearly see the ridge or escarpment. I’ve tried finding parts of the Hill that look like it, but wasn’t able to do so. Feel free to help me research and post the coordinates in the comments.

I’m looking forward to the movie. It’s directed by Mel Gibson, so I’m not so sure what to expect. In the trailer we saw Doss getting bullied and picked on by other soldiers. According to the personal website of Desmond Doss this happend till they found out he was never afraid to help and aid his brothers in arms. His actions gave him a such a heroical imagine and at the age of 25, Doss was probably most respected soldier of his unit. No doubt he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor which was presnted to him personaly by then United States President Harry Truman.

Besides the Medal of Honor Doss received two Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts. He was wounded three times during the war, and shortly before leaving the Army he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which cost him a lung. Discharged from the Army in 1946 as a Corporal, he spent five years undergoing medical treatment for his injuries and illness. His wife Dorothy, who he married in 1942, was waiting for him and they were together untill she passed away in 1991. In 1993 he married Frances and they were together until Doss passed away in 2006 at his home in Piedmont, Alabama. He was already hospitalized for breathing troubles. Desmond Doss was 87 years old.

 

(Original Caption) President Truman awarding Congressional Medal of Honor to Corporal Desmond Doss of Lynchburg, Va., a conscientious objector who served in Medical Corps.

(Original Caption) President Truman awarding Congressional Medal of Honor to Corporal Desmond Doss of Lynchburg, Va., a conscientious objector who served in Medical Corps.

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Comments

  1. Cameron
    August 16, 2016 - 11:20 am

    Quite interesting to find out more details about his story. When I saw the trailer about 1-2 weeks ago it definitely got me interested in his story. Great to read that citation about his heroics.

    Great article mate

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