Ramblings from Evan King’s dad – I am sitting here studying the lesson our Bible study class will go over tomorrow on having a new life through Christ. When you have ADHD, you have the ability to change channels in your brain effortlessly. So sitting here reading through 2 Corinthians 5:17, it talks about having a new life. For some reason, my mind went off in the direction of what we do with the “dash”. You know, that dash on our tombstone between the day we were born and the day we die. My mind then went on to ponder Desmond Doss from Lynchburg, VA.
Who was Desmond Doss? He was just some Hillbilly from Lynchburg, VA. Born February 7, 1919 – Died March 23, 2006. His dad was a carpenter, and his mom a shoe factory worker. He was raised a devout Christian with a nonviolence, and a vegetarian lifestyle in his upbringing.
He attended a Seventh-day Adventist Church school until the eighth grade and subsequently found a job at a lumberyard to support his family during the Great Depression. So it sounds like he was a guy who never completed high school with a thankless job getting splinters in his hands.
Before the outbreak of WWII, Doss was employed as a joiner at a shipyard. Apparently, he was stuck in a dead-end job as a “blue collar worker”, never to rise to any level of greatness. Because of his upbringing, Doss was a conscientious objector in World War II. He took very seriously “Thou Shalt Not Kill”. Doss believed in non-violence but he was also a patriot. So in 1942, he entered military service, despite being offered a deferment for his shipyard work.
He agreed to wear a uniform but refused to carry a weapon. Reluctantly, the military made him a medic assigned to the 2nd Platoon, B Company, 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. In the battle of Okinawa, this unarmed, Bible-thumping, weaponless, blue-collar hillbilly was wounded numerous times on the battlefield and his serious injuries got him shipped back home.
So what did he do with the “dash” between his birth and his death?
Prior to his injuries, Doss was credited with single-handedly saving over 75 injured comrades during that battle. Dragging them one by one, and then lowering them by rope down a 100-foot cliff, while often being shot at by Japanese soldiers. In all, it is believed that during his time as a medic, he saved over 100 men.
While he was waiting to be evacuated with injuries, Doss sustained another bullet wound that caused a compound fracture to his left arm. His bravery under fire led to the making of the 2016 movie, Hacksaw Ridge.
In 1946, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which he had contracted in battle. He underwent treatment for five and a half years – which cost him a lung and five ribs – before being discharged from the hospital in August 1951 with 90% disability. He continued to receive treatment from the military, but after an overdose of antibiotics rendered him completely deaf in 1976, he was given 100% disability. He was able to regain some of his hearing with a cochlear implant in 1988. Despite the severity of his injuries, he managed to raise a family on a small farm in Rising Fawn, GA.
In his later years, he worked with the youth at his church.
I wonder what the men he saved would say about the “uneducated blue-collar hillbilly from Lynchburg”? I wonder what the youth he worked with would say about the partially deaf, crippled old man, with one lung? Better yet, I wonder what their kids and grandkids might say? I wonder what the countless people those individuals impacted might say.
In 1998, eight years before his death, the Richmond Times interviewed him. “From a human standpoint, I shouldn’t be here to tell the story,” Mr. Doss told the paper. “All the glory should go to God. No telling how many times the Lord has spared my life.”
Can you imagine the ripple effect Desmond Doss had during his “dash”? My question is, regardless of limitations we might see ourselves having, what kind of impact can we still have with our dash?
What work has GOD set aside for us to do with “our limitations” during the making of our dash?…
Desmond Doss’ Medal of Honor Citation: “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.”