Private Desmond Doss

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Today as I was sitting on a bench watching my kids play at the park my husband asked me if I wanted to see a movie. He asked me if I wanted to see “Hacksaw Ridge.” It sounds like a slasher movie left over from Halloween. He corrected me and told me it was a war movie directed by Mel Gibson. I said I don’t want to watch a movie with people cussing and swearing.

I remember asking my Great Uncle if this one war movie was accurate. He said it was … with one minor correction. He said, “We were not cussing … we were praying.” Since then WWII movies that depict vulgar language have never interested me. I had Dave search up the PG14 rating and there was no language and no sex… which just left the graphic violence of war.

But I was compelled by Desmond’s story. I mean who goes off to war without a gun? Desmond called himself “a conscientious cooperator” although it was in his records that he was a conscientious objector. But he felt the need to do his part in his way… or maybe I should rightfully add His way.

I love stories where people are true to their convictions under tremendous stress. Many of the soldiers that he trained with and even his superiors thought he would be a major liability on the battlefield and tried all sort of horrible things to make him quit. But he stayed true to who he was. He continued on with courage and determination.

In April 1945, Desmond’s battalion fought on a dangerous battlefield heavily fortified by a deadly network of Japanese machine gun nests and traps. In order to reach the battlefield, they had to climb a 400-foot cliff, nicknamed Hacksaw Ridge. Winning this escarpment was key in winning the battle of Okinawa. But the battalions first attempt ended in a retreat. But private Desmond refused to retreat and leave his fellow countrymen. Despite all odds against him Doss repeatedly ran alone into the kill zone and rescued a fallen man. Each time he would do this he would humbly pray, “Lord, please help me get one more.” He repeated this process 75 more times that night. (Modestly Doss gives all the glory to God and he thought it was more like 50 times… but his comrades that it was closer to 100 and they met in the middle.)

Desmond Doss story is beautiful. This faithful Seventh Day Adventist has a beautiful courageous faith. As Mike Miller stated: “Private Desmond Doss walked into the bloodiest battle of World War II’s Pacific theater with nothing to protect himself save for his Bible and his faith in God.”

Sometimes we forget that God plus one… always equals a victory. I am thankful for his faith and his courage. I am changed by his story and I want to be a better person.

I don’t fight on a bloody battlefield, the One I enlist to serve has not required that of me. But there is definitely a war waging for men’s souls… What would happen if we all figuratively prayed to God and said..”please help me get one more” Then courageously ran until we found someone and then repeated.

I will admit that I closed my eyes through much of the film. It is too gory. But this man’s story is worth knowing and hopefully, you too will be changed but Private Doss’s ability to fulfill the measure of his creation. What a beautiful man… he is no longer with us but I am sure he is at peace now with the One he served.



Private Desmond Doss

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