3 Life Lessons from Desmond T Doss

3 Life Lessons from Desmond T Doss

- in Profiles
Image Credit: adventist.org

Desmond T Doss, born February 7 1919 in Lynchburg, Virginia, United States and died March 23 2006, was a conscientious objector in World War 2. His parents were Thomas Doss and Bertha Edward Doss and he had two siblings; his sister Audrey and brother Harold. He was well known as the only man who went to war without a weapon to protect himself.

Desmond Doss was raised as a Seventh Day Adventist and was taught by his mother the Ten Commandments to which he stayed true. The one commandment he held dearly was the one that says, “Thou shall not kill”. In their home there was a picture that portrayed the biblical characters Cain and Abel, with Cain killing his brother Abel.

He failed to understand why someone would kill his own brother, a blood relative. Growing up he always had the desire to help people in the medical arena. To see lives being saved rather than being taken. He worked at the Newport News Naval as a joiner and at the time of his employment is when Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese.

Video: Who was Desmond Doss

He could have sort for a deferment but he felt a strong calling to enlist in the army to go and serve as a medic in the military. He joined up as a conscientious objector with the assumption that he would not be required to carry a weapon.

As it turned out Desmond Doss was assigned to a rifle company and when his religious beliefs came to the fore it created problems for him with his commanding officers and fellow soldiers. The commandment to not kill guided his actions and as a result his life was made a living hell. He was beaten, intimidated and threatened with a court martial order to persuade him to quit.

His fellow soldiers saw him as a liability if he could not carry a weapon when going to war. He refused to bow down to the pressure and eventually they could not find a way to throw him out. He is one of a few courageous people the world has ever seen.

The perception his fellow soldiers and commanding officers had toward him began to change when he healed their wounds when they went out for battles. He remained true to what he wanted to do which was saving life while others were taking it. The biggest turnaround happened when they fought at Okinawa on Hacksaw Ridge as the US sought to retaliate against the Japanese. It is important to note that the battle at Okinawa was one of the bloodiest in the war.

Many American lives were lost on Hacksaw Ridge when the Japanese attacked. Seeing that they were being defeated the commanding officers called on everyone to retreat but Desmond Doss chose to ignore this instruction and risk his life to save his fellow men that were wounded in battle.

In the twelve or so hours that followed, he single handedly rescued 75 men and brought them to safety. In doing so he constantly dodged enemy fire.

He literally went into enemy territory with only his faith and Bible trusting that God would protect him. He came across near death experiences and got injured as a result. At one point he had to crawl almost 300 yards to get to safety. This in itself was a miracle.

In the aftermath of that incident there was a need for the army to return on Hacksaw Ridge and fight back. While initially no one wanted Desmond to go with them to battle this time they realized that they could not go to war without him. They came to realize that he had God on his side and that being around him would be a blessing. Before advancing yet again they had to delay their advance by about ten minutes while Desmond finished reading his Bible and praying.

Surely, his company took Hacksaw Ridge and he was later honored by then president Harry Truman with the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery and courage under fire.

The Mel Gibson war movie, Hacksaw Ridge is a narration of the life experience of Desmond T Doss and the amazing things he did in the war. In an interview about the movie Mel Gibson states that they did not include everything that Desmond did on Hacksaw Ridge because they feared people would not believe the movie. He was a true hero who demonstrated to the fullest what it means to lay down his life for his brothers.

His life story is almost unbelievable the first time you hear about it but he is a great example that we can all learn from. Here are a few lessons worth gleaning from this super hero:

1. God honors those who honor him

In a world that is getting more and more corrupted it is so easy to compromise on your moral standards or principles. However, God’s word does not change and it is true today as it was yesterday. Desmond Doss realized that honoring God’s word was more important than his personal comfort.

He stood up for the word of God and in turn God honored Desmond before his fellow men by enabling him to do the mighty acts of courage he demonstrated on Hacksaw Ridge. His story today is still being talked about and is a good example of God’s faithfulness.

2. True love makes a huge impact

The love he demonstrated for his fellow men saved the US army at the end of the day. It is also reported that Desmond Doss healed the wounds of Japanese soldiers as he was rescuing his fellow men. He did not see people according to race but as fellow human beings created by God and treated everyone as such.

Love can solve the problems of this world. A little love goes a long way in making right the ills of our world today. Lay down your life for the people around you like a true solider of Christ.

3. Courageous people are rare

The people that are remembered for a long time, and even centuries are often those that responded to a call much greater than themselves. If you are going to be someone who will be counted like the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 stay true to the conviction of the word of God in your life.

The world is perishing but be the light that is so desperately needed today. Be the one to stand out where you are and reflect the greatness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.



What other lessons can we learn from the life of Desmond Doss? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

About the author

Sija Mafu is an Online Enthusiast, Personal Development Fan, Global Business owner and a Master in The Art of Living. Also as a devout Christian, his vision is to see young people take responsibility for their lives and create bright futures for themselves, their families and society at large.


  1. This is a profound life story of a man who feared and honoured God.Unconditional love stands out as a theme in this post and humility before God and man.Thanks for sharing.

    1. It is bro. The movie is amazing and would encourage you to check it out. Desmond Doss was a real super hero 🙂

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