Hey, Brunswick County!

Happy snowness to you!

I hope that all of you are warm.

Last week, as I was doing some studying of Japanese history and culture, I was reminded of the amazing story of Desmond Doss, a medic in the US Army infantry assigned to the Pacific theater during World War II.

Here is the text of the citation that was read as he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman in November of 1945 for actions on the infamous “Hacksaw Ridge.”

Private First Class Desmond T. Doss, United States Army, Medical Detachment, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. Near Urasoe-Mura, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, 29 April – 21 May 1945. He was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet high. As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. Private First Class 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 and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands. On 2 May, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and two days later he treated four men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within eight yards of enemy forces in a cave's mouth, where he dressed his comrades' wounds before making four separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety. On 5 May, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small-arms fire and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, Private First Class Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire. On 21 May, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited five hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Private First Class Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. Awaiting the litter bearers' return, he was again struck, this time suffering a compound fracture of one arm. With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to the aid station. Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Private First Class Doss saved the lives of many soldiers.

One of Cindy and my assigned areas in Japan includes that area of the island of Okinawa and we hope to visit there someday and remember that heroism.

Now, here is the rest of the story.

Desmond Doss was a good Virginia boy!

Desmond was born in Lynchburg and raised a devote Seventh-Day Adventist. He had committed to God that he would never kill another human. So, when he was drafted, he proclaimed that he would go and serve but would not carry a weapon, even in the midst of battle. At the time of his enlistment he was working in the shipyards in Norfolk but was sent to Fort Lee for medical field training.

He had already shown great valor and compassion for the wounded as the US forces battled for Guam and in the Philippines.

And then, as stated above, he faced great personal danger on Okinawa.

The big question is, “Why was he not killed? Were the enemy soldiers bad at aiming?”

I'm guessing that you are thinking what I have thought.

God is a God of miracles, and this man was being true to his covenants with God and serving others with no concern for himself.

This is what opens the windows of Heaven.

Did his commitment to his faith protect him from ever being injured? No, but it did allow him to fulfill a great purpose.

He returned home, married and had a family.

Like you, I am inspired by Desmond Doss to be a better person. To be more unselfish. To be more Christlike.

Unlike most of you, I have a long way to go.

But, the hope is to be always headed in the right direction.

And Brunswick County is packed with good people, all with that same goal and hope. I am grateful for that.

Well, if anyone needs a spare sled, I think we have enough for everyone. Just slide on over with your medical and ski masks on.