Desmond Thomas Doss (1919-2006) worked in the Navy shipyards of Newport News, VA at the outset of WWII. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the army as a noncombatant, consistent with his Seventh-Day Adventist Church beliefs. At basic training at Fort Jackson, SC, he refused weapons training and work detail on the Sabbath, for which he received ridicule and abuse. The army trained him as a medic and assigned him to an army infantry division. He earned two Bronze Stars for exceptional valor in his efforts to aid the injured during battle. His defining moment came in the fierce Battle of Okinawa in 1945, on a hill known as Hacksaw Ridge. He was the only medic left in his battalion. American forces were vastly outnumbered when the command came to retreat, leaving a hundred wounded troops on the battlefield. Desmond stayed and carried wounded soldiers under intense enemy fire to a 40-foot cliff, where he lowered the injured to safety. By the end of the day, he had rescued 75 soldiers. In an ensuing battle on Hacksaw Ridge, he was wounded and permanently disabled. Years later in a tribute to Desmond, soldiers testified to his courage and expressed gratitude for rescuing them. President Truman awarded him the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1945. Truman said as he placed the award around his neck, “I consider this a greater honor than being president.” Desmond refused countless movie offers until one came along near the end of his life that wouldn’t embellish the story but tell it like it really happened. At the end of the movie, appropriately titled Hacksaw Ridge, Desmond was interviewed. He was asked what kept him going for twelve hours straight in this horrendous battle?” He replied, “I was praying the whole time. I just kept praying, ‘Lord, please help me to get one more.'” Find ways today to participate in God’s rescue operation. Join with Desmond in praying:
“Lord, please help me get one more.”
One more act of mercy,
one more attempt at forgiveness,
one more act of generosity,
one more proof of goodwill,
one more word of testimony,
one more gesture of comfort,
one more prayer for enemies,
one more offer of encouragement,
one more show of support,
one more sign of respect,
Lord, help me live one more day for you.
Rev. Dr. Peter James served 42 years as the senior of Vienna Presbyterian Church in Vienna, VA — 21 years in the 20th century and 21 years in the 21st century. He retired in 2021 and now serves as Pastor-in-Residence at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
Even as a pastor, prayer came slowly to Pete. Read Pete’s story.