History of War

DESMOND DOSS

When the Empire of Japan launched its pre-emptive strike on Pearl Harbor at the end of 1941, a young Virginian called Desmond Doss was working at the Newport News shipyard. Though he was entitled to request a deferment, he felt a duty to serve his country and enlisted just months later.

It was an unusual move for a devoted member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, one who as a child had vowed never to kill. When Doss arrived at Camp Lee for training on 1 April 1943, a skinny vegetarian, his fervent beliefs immediately landed him in a world of trouble. While the other trainees perfected their marksmanship, he refused to even carry a weapon. This attitude infuriated Doss’ fellow recruits to no end, with one even threatening, “Doss, as soon as we get into combat, I’ll make sure you won’t come back alive.”

His commanding officers, too, believed a soldier without a gun

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