Doss, who died Thursday at age 87, was the first conscientious objector to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, the U.S.'s highest military honor, after the unarmed Army medic saved dozens of fellow soldiers under fire on Okinawa in World War II.
(One other C.O., a Vietnam veteran, also has received the award.)
Doss was drafted in 1942, was given C.O. status and became a medic. He was harassed by fellow soldiers for his refusal to take up arms, devotion to prayer and refusal to work on the Sabbath, which he later went back on when he realized that Christ healed on the Sabbath and as a medic he could, too.
Doss was sent to the Pacific and served as a combat medic on Guam and at Leyte, where he received the Bronze Star, before landing at Okinawa.
On Saturday, May 5, 1945 -- his Sabbath -- the Japanese counterattacked an American position on Maeda Escarpment.
The Americans retreated, but many wounded were standed on the ridgetop and Doss stayed with them. Refusing to seek cover despite enemy fire, he improvised a litter with double bowline rope knots that he had learned to make as a youngster growing up in Virginia. Using a tree stump as an anchor, he lowered each soldier 35 feet from the ridgetop before coming down himself. His Medal of Honor citation stated that he rescued 75 men, but Doss later said the number was closer to 50.
Doss was wounded twice in the following weeks, spent more than five years in hospitals and lost a lung to tuberculosis. He was unable to work a steady job and devoted himself to his religion and working with young people in church-sponsored programs in Georgia and later in Alabama.
Late in life, he told a reporter that
From a human standpoint, I shouldn't be here to tell the story. All the glory should go to God. No telling how many times the Lord has spared my life.