||Honors! Table of Contents||
Medal of Honor Recipient
12 October 1945
|On October 12, 1945, Desmond Doss,
was invited to the White House to receive the Medal of Honor from President
Harry S. Truman for his brave service on May 5, 1945 - the first noncombatant
to ever receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. He would
spend a total of six years in hospitals as a consequence of his wounds
and a bout with tuberculosis.
Desmond T. Doss seemed an unlikely candidate to become a war hero. As a devout member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, he would not drill or train on Saturday because his church recognizes it as their Sabbath Day.
Incidentally, May 5, 1945 was a Saturday, Dossí Sabbath day.
DESMOND DOSS: A War Hero Without a Gun
by MATTHEW C SOPER with contributions by MARK REIMAN
Original source http://www.incrediblepeople.com/people(2002-04-23).htm
|MOH text - Original source: http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/mohiia1.htm
Scroll down the alphabetical list to his name.
DOSS, DESMOND T.
Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Medical Detachment, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Urasoe Mura, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, 29 April-21 May 1945.
Entered service at: Lynchburg, Va. Birth: Lynchburg, Va. G.O. No.: 97, 1 November 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. Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them 1 by 1 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 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within 8 yards of enemy forces in a cave's mouth, where he dressed his comrades' wounds before making 4 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, Pfc. 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 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Pfc. 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 1 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 Pfc. Doss saved the lives of many soldiers.
His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.
Operation Urgent Fury
|Had I not received an
e-mail from a friend last year it is unlikely I would know of Colonel
Tim Howard's story nor the painting in the Pentagon that depicts him and
his fellow Marines' action on Grenada in 1983.
As the general public has little knowledge of our major wars and their great battles, it follows that most citizens will have anything beyond a minimal knowledge of those sacrifices made by the military in the so-called smaller conflicts. This item below provides, at least, something longer lasting than yesterday's newspaper headline.
Another important slice out of time.
Sid Harrison - 26 Oct. 2003
Text & images copied from
Urgent Fury veteran recounts
MARINE FORCES PACIFIC,
Twenty years ago, United States forces evacuated U.S. citizens held hostage by Cuba's People's Revolutionary Army in St. George's, Grenada, in what was to be known as Operation Urgent Fury.
The multi-national, multi-service coalition, consisting of the 22nd Marine Amphibious Unit, Air Force AC-130 gunships, seven Navy ships, Navy SEALs, Army Rangers and paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne division, as well as Caribbean peacekeeping forces, swiftly defeated the People's Revolutionary Army and rescued the hostages.
American forces suffered 18 casualties. Three of those casualties were fellow Cobra pilots and friends of Col. Timothy Howard, Marine Forces Pacific G-2 assistant chief of staff.
|On Oct. 25, 1983, two AH-1T attack
helicopters from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-261, 22nd MAU, were
sent to Grenada to relieve pressure on a team of Navy SEALs participating
in Operation Urgent Fury.
The SEALs were protecting the home of Sir Paul Scoone, who, in the eyes of the United States government, was vital to the restructuring of the Grenada government.
A young Capt. Howard, along with Capt. Jeb Seagle, piloted one Cobra. Major John "Pat" Guigerre and 1st Lt. Jeff Sharver piloted the other.
Howard was on his second tour with what was then the 22nd MAU, which was ready to relieve the 24th MAU in Beirut, Lebanon. The 22nd MAU was diverted to Grenada on Oct. 22, 1983, one day before the Beirut bombing that took the lives of 241 U.S. service members.
"We got the call about the bombing after we had already turned for Grenada, and it was too late to turn around to help them," said Howard. "We still had to complete our mission."
That morning, Rangers were dropped over Point Salines to secure the area. Other Rangers were given orders to secure True Blue campus. However, they were ambushed and requested assistance.
Along with these Rangers, another Ranger detachment was securing the area at Fort Frederick overlooking St. George's. These soldiers received heavy fire, and gunships were called in to assist them.
The Cobras reloaded before taking off to relieve the SEALs. After two passes over triple-canopy jungles, open fields and mountainous terrain, Howard's bird was hit by anti-aircraft fire originating from a nearby mental hospital.
Howard's Cobra had been hit several times, including three shots that injured him. The first shot hit him in the right arm tearing it off from just below the elbow.
The second shot hit him in the right leg, seriously wounding his knee. After the final shot hit the aircraft, a golf-ball sized piece of the aircraft became imbedded in his neck.
Howard said they were forced to land in a field near St. George's beach. During the forced landing, Howard called for his co-pilot to lower the bird, but realized Seagle had been knocked unconscious from rounds impacting the helicopter.
"He must have hit his head when we got hit, because I tried yelling his name, but he wouldn't come to. I knew I had to do something, so I tried everything I could to land safely," said Howard.
Despite his injuries, Howard managed to wrap his left arm around the "stick" and control the helicopter enough to land it.
During the landing however, the aircraft was seriously damaged. It caused the tail rotor to furrow and separate from the tail boom.
Upon landing, all the warning lights on the circuit board lighted up, and although the helicopter managed to stay upright, it caught on fire. Seagle regained consciousness after landing and attempted to assist Howard.
"He kept yelling at me to get out, but I don't think he knew how bad I had been hurt," said Howard.
Although Howard managed to unbuckle himself, he fell to the ground. Howard recalled that Seagle grabbed him by the back of his shirt and dragged him toward safety.
"I used my good leg to push with, while he was pulling me. He left me in a tall grassy field, next to a soccer stadium," said Howard.
Howard said he was worried more for his co-pilots safety more than his own, and kept yelling, "You've got to get out of here. I am going to die, but you've got a chance."
Seagle went for help, but Howard still anticipated his own death, and said he knew he was never going to see Seagle again.
Seagle managed to send a call for help before leaving on foot to find ground support.
The other Cobra received the call and provided fire support while a CH-46 crew tried to rescue Howard.
During the rescue attempt, the Cobra received fire from anti-aircraft from somewhere on the island and was shot down. Both Guigerre and Sharver were killed when their helicopter crashed into the ocean.
Meanwhile, Gunnery Sgt. Kelly Neideigh, a CH-46 door gunner, and Vietnam veteran, risked his life by running into live fire to drag Howard to the CH-46 to safety.
By the time Neideigh reached Howard, more than an hour had passed since Howard's Cobra went down.
Unfortunately, Howard's co-pilot, Seagle, never made it to safety; he was found dead on the beach. He had been captured and murdered while trying to find help for Howard.
Howard spent many long months in the hospital, learning to deal with the loss of his arm, and the grim diagnosis made by his doctors that he would never walk again.
"It was five months before I could walk with special crutches," recalled Howard. "I walked with a cane until just about a year after being shot. I began walking fast/jogging at the two year mark."
Many service members would have been content with a medical discharge following an incapacitating wound. Howard wanted to stay "Marine."
"I felt I still had something to contribute to my beloved Corps. I still feel that way."
That was 17 years ago. He recently scored a first class physical fitness test.
Howard was not alone during his struggle to overcome his injuries. Howard gives a lot of the praise and credit to his family.
"Beth, my wife of 25 years, has been especially supportive," said Howard. "Also, my daughter, Christy, has been a true friend throughout my life."
Howard joined the Marine Corps in 1977 to fly helicopters, and still plans on giving the Corps another three to four years, at the very least.
Howard's co-pilots may be lost, but never forgotten.
A hangar will be dedicated to the late Capt. Jeff Sharver by HMLA-775, coinciding with HMM-261's reunion, celebrating its 20th anniversary of their participation in Operation Urgent Fury, Nov. 1, 2003 in Fredericksburg, Va.
|"Reservists and regulars, kids and
old pros, doing the work that men must do to allow latte-laced discussions
of moral equivalence. Somewhere on a filthy hill, hard men wait to do their
duties, to locate and destroy those who would practice evil. While these
men await that moment, anointed thinkers castigate them."
--- Comment by an anonymous American Veteran from an internet forum after 9-11