Hacksaw Ridge, is a feature film that is based on the extraordinary true story of WWII medic Desmond Doss (February 7, 1919 – March 23, 2006). The film was directed by Mel Gibson and played by Andrew Garfield in the lead role. The film received a 10-minute standing ovation at its red carpet world premiere at the Venice Film Festival.
The story is about Desmond Doss who enlisted in the army voluntarily in April 1942, but he refused to kill an enemy soldier or carry a weapon into combat because of his personal beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist. For this, he was labeled the first conscientious objector. He consequently became a medic in the army. He was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon. The only weapon he used was a simple prayer.
And while serving in the Pacific theater, Okinawa, the bloodiest battle of World War II, Desmond Doss miraculously saved 75 men in a few hours without firing or carrying a gun. Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them one by one to the edge of the escarpment. He single-highhandedly evacuated the 75 wounded from behind enemy lines, under constant enemy gunfire and artillery bombardment.
Doss’ outstanding bravery, faith and unflinching determination in the face of very dangerous conditions, won the admiration of his commanders and fellow soldiers, as he saved the lives of the very men who had mistreated him for rejecting to carry a gun. He believed the war was just, but to kill under any circumstance was not right. He saved the lives of his comrades, while at the same time adhering to his religious convictions.
President Harry Truman granted Desmond Doss the Medal of Honor – America’s highest military award, the first ever given to a conscientious objector. And his name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.
Doss 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, he spent five years undergoing medical treatment for his injuries and illness.
Desmond Doss died in 2006 at his home in Piedmont, Alabama, after being hospitalized for breathing troubles. A horse-drawn hearse delivered the flag-covered casket to the grave site while military helicopters flew overhead in a tribute formation. Although he refused to carry a weapon while serving as an Army medic, a 21-gun salute was fired in his honor. And he was buried in Chattanooga, Tennessee’s National Cemetery.