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Armed With Faith

A cross the top of Hacksaw Ridge, men

lay dead or dying. Those who still had
breath were frantically screaming, Medic!
the fear of death in their voices. The sudden
onslaught of Japanese soldiers had caught
them by surprise. Bullets and shrapnel flew,
mortars exploded, and the air was thick with
fire and smoke. Hoards of enemy infantry
were charging, bayonets fixed.

A desperate order rang out. Retreat!

While American soldiers streamed away from
danger, one soldier ran in the opposite direc-
tion, toward the enemy, answering the cry of
the wounded soldiers who had been left be-
hind on the battlefield.
Hours later, he had lost count of how
many he had rescued. Exhausted, he refused
to quit. He had been known to say, As long
as there is life there is hope. He was deter-
mined to find any fallen soldier who still had
life left in him.
He had been carrying wounded and un-
conscious soldiers from a battlefield that was
still being bombarded by enemy fire. His
life in jeopardy, he lowered them one by one
down a ragged precipice. His uniform was
stiff, caked with the blood of rescued com-
rades. Beneath his helmet, his hair was mat-
ted with sweat.
When the day had started, his rifle com-
pany had launched the assault with 155
men. But after the vicious enemy attack,
only about a third of them had found a way

to retreat down the steep escarpment. The

rest lay wounded, scattered across enemy
soil. One lone soldier had decided to charge
back into the firefight to rescue as many as
he could before he either collapsed or died
After treating a fallen soldiers wounds, he
would carry the soldier to the edge of the cliff
and lower him to his buddies. Desmond Doss
would then crawl back across the treacherous
summit looking for another in need of the
only medic left in Company B of the 307th
Infantry, 77th Division.

His determination and courage resulted

in saving the lives of at least 75 American
soldiers that harrowing May day in 1945.
For his continued bravery and outstand-
ing acts of courage, he was awarded the
Congressional Medal of Honor by President
Harry S. Truman on October 12, 1945. As

he shook the hand of Corporal Desmond

Doss, President Truman said, Im proud of
you. You really deserve this. I consider this a
greater honor than being president.1
Desmond Thomas Doss grew up in
Lynchburg, Virginia. He was a sensitive boy
with a keen conscience fixed on always doing
what was right. As a child of the depression
era, he was satisfied with the simple things in
life. His strong religious upbringing formed
a foundation of sincere faith and dependence
on God. If it was in the Bible, he took it per-
sonally. If God said it, he believed it. If it was
something God requested, he simply obeyed
without question.
One thing Desmond took serious-
ly was Gods will as expressed in the Ten
Commandments. He was raised in a religious
home where they were held in high regard.
An illustration of the Ten Commandments
hung on the living room wall of his familys
home, and as a boy Desmond would climb
on a chair to stare at the large framed picture.
1 To read his citation, please visit:

The mind of little Desmond was particular-

ly impressed by the illustration next to the
words, Thou shalt not kill. The drawing
depicted Cain holding a club and standing
over the lifeless body of his younger broth-
er, Abel. Desmond would ask, Why did
Cain kill Abel? How could a brother do such
a thing?
Desmond grew up on Bible stories. He
faithfully attended church every week. His
day of worship was the seventh day, the
Sabbath, as expressed in the fourth com-
mandment. His respect for the Bible led him
to a life of unwavering commitment to God
and absolute duty to his fellow men and his
country. God was first in his life, others came
second, and his own needs were considered
last. As a young man, he understood the
principle of selfless love as illustrated in the
life of Jesus Christ.
At the time Pearl Harbor was attacked,
Desmond was working at the Newport
News Naval shipyard. While his work meant
he could have obtained a deferment from

military service, he felt the call to serve his

country and chose to enlist, believing his ser-
vice would advance the cause of freedom.
But life in the Army was not what he
expected. The lanky boy from Virginia, who
spoke with a gentle southern drawl, was as-
signed to a barrack full of tough, street-wise
New Yorkers who had no use for his religious
ways. Seeing Desmond quietly reading his
Bible on his bunk presented an opportunity
for ridicule. Boots were thrown at him while
he knelt next to his bed, and those he hoped
would be his friends cursed him routinely.
Desmond became the brunt of cruel jokes
and bullying. He was ostracized and threat-
ened, with one soldier warning him, Doss,
when we get into combat, Ill make sure you
dont come back alive.
However, it wasnt only his religion that
provoked his fellow soldiers and officers. It
was the fact this Bible-carrying Christian also
refused to carry a weapon.
How could his fellow soldiers trust a man
who wouldnt carry a gun? What happens in

the heat of battle when your buddy is sup-

pose to protect you? How would Doss de-
fend himself without a rifle, a sidearm, or
even a bayonet? When facing the enemy, no
soldier wanted to be next to the guy without
a gun.
Desmond refused to waver from his
commitment to the commandments he had
learned as a boy. So when the requirements
of his God clashed with those of his com-
manding officers, Desmonds convictions
came first. Because Gods law stated one
person should not kill another, Desmond
believed he shouldnt touch a weapon of any
kind. When it came time to go to the rifle
range, he refused to participate in the train-
ing. His fellow soldiers were not impressed,
and his commanding officers were frustrated
and angry.
Complicating matters was Desmonds
insistence that he obey all of Gods com-
mandments, including the fourth com-
mandment which states that the seventh-day
Sabbath should be observed as holy. When

it came to the seventh day, he refused to car-

ry a broom or a mop. While the rest of the
men were involved in army duties on the sev-
enth day, Desmond would request a pass to
go to church. If a pass was denied, he went
back to his bunk to quietly read his Bible and
pray. On Sunday, while the rest of the men
received a pass and a day off to attend church
or visit town, Desmond was busy with a
broom, mop, and bucket, cleaning latrines.
Again, this young, iron-willed soldier was
out of sync with the army. He was denied his
religious freedom and ordered to work on the
day the Bible calls the Sabbath.
Soldiers who defied a direct order
could be court-martialed, so they tried to
throw Desmond out of the army as a mis-
fit. But ultimately, the army accommodat-
ed Desmonds convictions. In spite of often
brutal treatment from his fellow soldiers, and
ridicule and threatening on the part of his
commanding officers, he continued to keep
the seventh-day Sabbath, and he refused to
carry a gun every day of the week.

It quickly became apparent to the rest of

the recruits that Desmond Doss was a misfit.
They thought he believed he deserved special
privileges. He became a loner without friend
or confidante. For Desmond, every day
presented a challenge to survive. The army
urged him to quit military life by suggesting
he was mentally unstable and not fit for ser-
vice. But Desmond refused to relent, stating
he was more than willing to serve God and
countryin that order.


Under the Shadow of the Almighty

A fter a couple years of training in the

mountains and deserts of North
America, the 307th Infantry Regiment was
sent to the Pacific. Desmond entered combat
next to his fellow soldiers, never hesitating
to run into the heat of a battle in order to
save the life of a wounded or fallen soldier.
His dedication to serving his men quickly

became apparent as he saved one life after

another amidst flying shrapnel or a hail of
bullets. On the battlefield, Desmond Doss
proved his worth to his fellow soldiers again
and again. Where they once thought they
couldnt count on him, his effectiveness as a
combat medic made them realize they dared
not go into combat without him.
Desmond developed a reputation for be-
ing stubbornly committed to leaving no man
behind on the battlefield. More than once he
refused a direct order and ran to aid a fallen
soldier, not considering how close he might
be to enemy lines. More than once he could
hear the whispering voices of the Japanese
while he treated a wounded soldier. Yet, he
repeatedly risked his life in order to return a
man to safety.
Instead of treating him as a misfit, sol-
diers now desired to be as close to Doss as
possible as they charged into enemy fire.
They knew that if they were injured he would
come to their aid. He treated them all with
gentle care, no matter how they had treated

him in the beginning. He saved the lives of

the same soldiers who had cursed him. Now
they had the greatest respect for the medic
who refused to carry a gun.
On one occasion he found a soldier whose
legs had been blown off. While another med-
ic had left the man behind to die, Desmond
treated his wounds and carried him to safety.
The man survived and raised a family.
Often his men would find him reading
his Bible and praying. At times, they request-
ed he pray for them. They recognized that he
carried something of greater value onto the
battlefield: the protection of his God. The
time came when his unit would choose to
wait until Desmond had finished his morn-
ing prayers before going back into the heat of
battle. They did not want to meet the enemy
without first knowing that Desmonds God
was with them. They dared not face battle
without the assurance and presence of their
medic. He had proved himself to be faithful.
By the time they reached Okinawa, he had
been awarded two Bronze Stars for valor.

The 307th Infantry Regiment saw com-

bat throughout the Pacific. Yet as heavy as
the fighting had been on Guam and Leyte,
nothing could compare to the battles and ca-
sualties on the island of Okinawa. Okinawa
was the last stronghold protecting Japan. The
enemy positions were well-entrenched and
American troops were met with fierce resis-
tance. Repeated attempts to gain a foothold
on the critical Maeda Escarpment failed and
there were heavy casualties. The sheer, rugged
embankment made advance difficult. Soldiers
had to climb up the face of the cliff on ropes
and cargo nets. Once on top of the bluff, they
became easy targets for the well-hidden ene-
my machine guns and pill boxes.
After several failed attempts to capture
the top of what the soldiers called Hacksaw
Ridge, Desmonds Company finally reached
the top and neutralized several enemy po-
sitions. But their success was short lived
when the Japanese responded with an all
out counter-attack. American troops were
ordered to retreat and so the soldiers rushed

to climb back down the cargo nets. All the

soldiers, that is, except one.
Most of Company B were not able to
make it to the edge of Hacksaw Ridge and
back down to safety. Many lay scattered across
the top of the escarpment, wounded and left
for dead. But Desmond Doss did not turn to
run. Instead, in the midst of enemy fire, he ran
back toward his fallen comrades. He treated
the wounds of each of the soldiers he located
and then carried them to the edge of the cliff.
After lowering each one to safety with a rope,
Doss prayed a prayer of faith and determina-
tion. Lord, help me get one more! Then he
would turn back into the hail of gunfire in
search of another soldier to bring to safety.
As hour after hour passed, God honored
Desmonds request, and while bullets came
close enough to him that he could hear them
whizzing past, he never was hit. All night
long he continued to rescue the fallen, carry-
ing them to safety, one at a time.
His fellow soldiers and commanders
believed he rescued at least a hundred men

from the top of Hacksaw Ridge that day.

Desmond thought it could not have been
more than fifty. In their written recommen-
dation that he receive the Medal of Honor,
his commanding officers split the difference.
Thats why his citation states that he rescued
75 men. In fact, it could have been more.
As Okinawa was captured inch by bloody
inch, Desmond was wounded in a subse-
quent battle. While sheltering in a foxhole
with two other soldiers, a Japanese grenade
landed at his feet. The explosion blew him
out of the foxhole, and shrapnel tore into his
leg and thigh. He stopped the flow of blood
and treated his own wounds. While dragging
himself to safety, he was hit again by a snip-
ers bullet that shattered the bones in his arm.
Desmond Doss career as a combat med-
ic was over. But before he left the battlefield
he again demonstrated his selfless character.
Wounded, in pain, and losing blood, he nev-
ertheless put others ahead of himself, insist-
ing his litter bearers first take another man
to safety. Guided by the biblical faith he had

made the foundation of his life, he would

die if it meant another could live. Desmond
practiced the golden ruleTherefore,
whatever you want men to do to you, do also
to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets
(Matthew 7:12)even though it might have
cost him his life.
In agony, he crawled to an aid station be-
fore being carried off the battlefield. But on
his way to the hospital ship, Desmond sud-
denly realized that his closest companion was
missing. He had lost the little Bible given to
him by his wife, Dorothy. Devastated, he sent
word back to the front lines. In response, his
fellow soldiersthose who had once been
hesitant to go into battle with himscoured
the battlefield and found his Bible, and had
it delivered to their wounded friend.
It took much time and several surgeries
for Desmonds wounds to heal. The long,
wet, sleepless nights, shivering in a muddy
foxhole on the islands of the Pacific would
also take their toll. He developed tuberculo-
sis. In time, his left lung and five ribs would

be surgically removed. His shattered arm

healed but would never again fully function,
and his treatment for tuberculosis caused
him to lose his hearing. He was deaf for
many years until a cochlear implant restored
his ability to communicate.
For the rest of his life, Desmond lived
with the aftermath of war. Yet he traveled
thousands of miles recounting his experienc-
es, and especially enjoyed encouraging audi-
ences of young people. He shared his faith
in God, and told how God protected him in
combat and helped him serve others.
In spite of his exploits, Desmond Doss
never considered himself a hero. Few would
have agreed with him. At the age of 87,
Corporal Desmond Thomas Doss died on
March 23, 2006. He was buried with full
military honors at the National Cemetery lo-
cated in Chattanooga, Tennessee.


How to Grow Your Faith

H ow did Desmond Doss have such

great faith? How could he go into
battle without a weapon and face the ene-
my with confidence? There were two things
that Desmond took with him into combat:
(1) prayer and (2) his pocket Biblethe one
given to him by his wife, Dorothy. He kept
it with him at all times, just like his canteen
and first aid kit.
Inside the little Bible, Dorothy had writ-
ten these words: Dearest Desmond, As you
read and study the precious promises found
in the Word of God contained in this little
Bible, may you be strengthened in whatev-
er trials may come to you. May your faith
in God bring comfort and peace of heart to
you, that you may never be sad or lonely no
matter how dark the way seems. If we do not
meet another time on this earth, we have the
assurance of a happy meeting place in heav-
en. May God in His mercy grant us both a

place there. Your loving wife, Dorothy. He

read these words often.
The unusual thing about this persistent
combat medic was not only his determina-
tion to save as many lives as he could, but
the fact that he ventured toward enemy lines
without a gun. Yet, Desmond Doss was not
defenseless. He was armed with faith. Into
every combat, he carried the Word of God,
which the Bible refers to as the sword of the
Spirit. Desmond regularly read his Bible and
he knew how to prepare for battle.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the

Lord and in the power of His might.
Put on the whole armor of God, that
you may be able to stand against the
wiles of the devil. For we do not wres-
tle against flesh and blood, but against
principalities, against powers, against
the rulers of the darkness of this age,
against spiritual hosts of wickedness in
the heavenly places. Therefore take up
the whole armor of God, that you may

be able to withstand in the evil day, and

having done all, to stand. Stand there-
fore, having girded your waist with
truth, having put on the breastplate of
righteousness, and having shod your
feet with the preparation of the gospel
of peace; above all, taking the shield
of faith with which you will be able to
quench all the fiery darts of the wicked
one. And take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit, which
is the word of God; praying always
with all prayer and supplication in the
Spirit, being watchful to this end with
all perseverance and supplication for
all the saints (Ephesians 6:1018).

Desmond believed these words and did

what they encouraged. Although he was not
fearless when it came to facing the enemy, he
was confident that he was not alone. He be-
lieved God would protect him as promised.
In the little Bible Dorothy had given him, he
often read these words:

He who dwells in the secret place of

the Most High shall abide under the
shadow of the Almighty. I will say of
the Lord, He is my refuge and my for-
tress; My God, in Him I will trust
(Psalm 91:1,2).

You shall not be afraid of the terror

by night, nor of the arrow that flies by
day, nor of the pestilence that walks in
darkness, nor of the destruction that
lays waste at noonday. A thousand
may fall at your side, and ten thou-
sand at your right hand; But it shall
not come near you. Only with your
eyes shall you look, and see the re-
ward of the wicked. Because you have
made the Lord, who is my refuge, even
the Most High, your dwelling place,
no evil shall befall you, nor shall any
plague come near your dwelling; For
He shall give His angels charge over
you, to keep you in all your ways. In
their hands they shall bear you up, lest

you dash your foot against a stone

(Psalm 91:512).

It is better to trust in the Lord than to

put confidence in man (Psalm 118:8).

His favorite Bible passage was Proverbs

3:5,6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He
shall direct your paths.
Some of his fellow soldiers claimed a su-
perhuman power protected him during his
daring rescues. Some even called his apparent
divine protection a miracle.
It was through reading his Bible and pray-
ing to God that Desmonds faith increased.
By reading the Bible, he came to know God.
By praying, he shared himself with God,
told God his personal needs and recognized
his dependence on God. Prayer also gave
him assurance.
That formulaBible reading and prayer
will result in the same increase in faith for

anyone willing to trust God. How do we get

faith? The Bible itself shares the secret: So
then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by
the word of God (Romans 10:17).
The more you read the Word of God,
the more your faith will increase. As in any
interpersonal relationship, its hard to trust
someone you dont really know. How can
you increase your faith in God, even a God
you dont know? Let me share with you a
simple but profound five-step process of
spiritual growth.

1. Know God.
The first step is to do all you can to get
to know God. In fact, Jesus Himself said
that knowledge is not only power, but it is
eternal life. And this is eternal life, that they
may know You, the only true God, and Jesus
Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3).
Jesus was saying that eternal life begins
here and now, by gaining a knowledge of
God. Once you get to know who God is,
learning to trust Him will come naturally.

2. Trust God.
The Bible says that trust (faith) comes
by hearing (or reading) the Word of God
(Romans 10:17). Once you get to know God,
you will be able to trust Him in the same way
Desmond Doss did, whether you are in your
office, at home, in a crowd, or alone on the
battlefield of life. Getting to know God leads
to trusting Him; once you learn to trust Him,
a trust relationship will blossom.

3. Love God.
Love is based on trust. Its hard to love an-
other persona friend, a spouse, or child
if you dont trust them. A relationship with
God works the same way. Through reading
the Bible, you will come to know that God is
not only trustworthy, He is also the epitome
of true loveselfless lovea love that never
ceases to forgive. Gods goal is not only to
forgive us, but change us. If we confess our
sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our
sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteous-
ness (1 John 1:9).

4. Serve God.
Serving someone you dont love is mere
drudgery. But once you learn to know, trust,
and love God, your automatic impulse will be
to serve Him and serve others. Gods love will
motivate you to put the needs of others ahead
of your own.
Once youve developed a relationship
with God where youve come to really
know Him, trust Him, and love Him, your
overwhelming response will be a desire to
serve God.

5. Reflect God.
God is love and all His actions are based
on the motive of selfless love. The life of
Jesus demonstrated the character of God.
Everything Jesus did while on this earth was
love in action. The same life of love can be
yours if you choose to surrender your heart
to God. He has promised to live through
you. For it is God who works in you both
to will and to do for His good pleasure
(Philippians 2:13).

Who has your heart today? God is as will-

ing to fill your heart with His presence as
He did for Desmond Doss. How is it that
Desmond didnt retaliate when cursed and
taunted by fellow soldiers? How is it that he
served even those who mistreated him? He
didnt repay evil with evil, because his life was
surrendered to God.
What was true for Desmond can be true
for you. God will live and work through you
if you want Him to do so. If you will study
Gods Word, get to know Him, learn to trust
Him, come to love Him, and desire to serve
Him, your life will reflect to all around you
the character of God.


The Word of God

D esmond Doss believed the Bible to be

Gods word. His experience demon-
strated that the Bible is not simply a book of
information, but a book of transformation.

The Word of God not only offers hope and

forgiveness, but power to live a new life of
integrity and faith.
The Bible offers light in a dark world. King
David wrote, Your word is a lamp to my
feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105).
The Bible will enlighten your mind as you
read the thoughts inspired by God Himself.
Read it as a personal letter from God. Study
each story to discover how God deals with
human beings. Review every chapter as if
God is speaking directly to you. And learn
to look for specific things He promises you.
God wants the very best for you. For
I know the thoughts that I think toward
you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and
not of evil, to give you a future and a hope
(Jeremiah 29:11).
God promises to provide for all your
needs. And my God shall supply all your
need according to His riches in glory by
Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
He will not hold your sins or past mis-
takes against you. If we confess our sins,

He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins

and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness
(1 John 1:9).
He promises you a bright future, which
includes a heavenly home. Let not your
heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe
also in Me. In My Fathers house are many
mansions; if it were not so, I would have told
you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if
I go and prepare a place for you, I will come
again and receive you to Myself; that where
I am, there you may be also (John 14:13).


The Power of Prayer

J ust as your body needs oxygen to survive,

your soul needs prayer in order to thrive.
Prayer enables you to communicate with
God and provides God with an avenue to
speak clearly with you. When He, the Spirit
of truth, has come, He will guide you into all
truth (John 16:13).

In human relationships we get to know

each other by talking and by listening. Its
the same in your relationship with God. He
desires to listen to you. Then you will call
upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will
listen to you. And you will seek Me and find
Me, when you search for Me with all your
heart (Jeremiah 29:12, 13).
God also wants you to share with Him
your wants and needs, and even your troubles
and challenges. He is waiting for a chance to
answer and address those things in your life.
Therefore I say to you, whatever things you
ask when you pray, believe that you receive
them, and you will have them (Mark 11:24).
If you want to learn to pray and dont
know where to begin, youre not alone. While
on Earth, Jesus was asked a question by those
closest to Him, His disciples. They too want-
ed to learn how to pray. They said to Him,
Teach us to pray. Youll find the story and
how Christ taught them the Lords prayer re-
corded in Matthew chapter 6. You can begin
your prayer life by reciting this model prayer.

Prayer was important to Jesus. The Bible

records how at times He spent entire nights
in prayer, talking to His Father. Prayers can
be long or short. You might only be able to
say, Lord, help me. Thats a prayer. Say
those words and you are talking to God.
There is no set length or requirement. Once
you begin speaking to God other words will
follow. Try it and see!
There is also no wrong time to pray. God
is listening for you and available any time.
David, the author of many of the psalms
in the Bible, prayed every morning. In the
morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the
morning I lay my requests before You and
wait in expectation (Psalm 5:3).
Keep in mind that prayer is not designed
so much to get God to give us what we want,
as its designed to help us participate in Gods
plan for our lives. In fact, He already knows
what you need before you ask Him. For
your Father knows what you need before you
ask Him (Matthew 6:8).

If your heart is willing to follow God, then

He invites you to ask for anything. This is
the confidence we have in approaching God:
that if we ask anything according to His will,
He hears us. And if we know that He hears
uswhatever we askwe know that we have
what we asked of Him (1 John 5:14,15).
You can be sure that God hears every
prayer, no matter how simple it may be. The
purpose of prayer is not to bring God down
to our level, but to lift us up to His. Through
prayer, God desires to lift us up and bring us
into the atmosphere of heaven. Prayer doesnt
change God. It changes us.
Talk to God as you would talk to your best
friend. In fact, God desires to be your best
friend. Tell Him what concerns you, share
whats on your heart, share your pain, your joy,
yourself. Prayer made a difference in the life of
Desmond Doss. It even made a difference to
rough and tough soldiers and others he prayed
for. It will make a difference in your life as well.
Desmond Doss was a hero and role model.
He possessed a character of integrity. He lived

what he believed and was true to his beliefs.

The Bible says: The integrity of the upright
shall guide them (Proverbs 11:3). Anyone
can choose a life of integrity. The results of
doing so will have eternal consequences.
I want to encourage you to allow God to
produce in you the faith of Desmond Doss.

To learn more, view the following

programs at

The Heroism of Desmond Doss: Desmond

Doss heroism is shared through the eyes of the
military. Retired Army colonel, Charles Knapp,
M.D., who serves as chairman of the Desmond
Doss Council, tells both of the Army perspective,
and his interaction with the producers of
the movie.
Visit for your free download

Who Was Desmond Doss?: Go on location

with John Bradshaw at the Tennessee Veterans
Memorial Park in Collegedale, Tennessee, and the
Chattanooga National Cemetery to learn more
of his story.
Visit for your free download

The Faith of Desmond Doss: How did

Desmond Doss faith shape his actions? His
pastor, Les Speer, talks with John Bradshaw,
exploring what made up Desmonds character
and spiritual life.They also take a look at his post-
war dedication to his community and his church.
Visit for your free download