Hacksaw Ridge is a war movie is unlike any other. Instead of a protagonist who saves the day by obliterating the enemy, Desmond T. Doss never pulls the trigger. Despite never even picking up a weapon, Doss was able to become an American hero during World War II.
The upcoming movie based on an incredible real-life story chronicles the life of Doss, played by Andrew Garfield. Desmond was a practicing Seventh-Day Adventist who served during World War II. His faith prohibited him from fighting in combat, but he was still determined to help the United States in World War II. The conscientious objector was drafted in April 1942, and because of his religious beliefs, he was assigned to be a medic.
While training in the U.S., Private Doss was constantly harassed by fellow soldiers for his devotion to prayer and refusal to use a weapon. The abuse of Doss became so bad that an officer tried to have Doss discharged for mental illness.
Doss was shipped off to the Pacific theater of World War II with the 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division, in the summer of 1944. Doss, who believed that bearing an arm was a sin, served as a combat medic on Guam and in the Philippines and earned the Bronze Star for his heroism. Then Doss was right in the middle of the battle for Okinawa in the spring of 1945.
The Japanese made a counter attack when on Saturday, May 5, 1945, when American forces were stuck on a 400-foot-high ridge on Okinawa. The attack happened on Saturday, his Sabbath, but that didn’t stop Doss from saving his fellow soldiers. Doss rigged a sling to help rescue the wounded soldiers who were pinned down on the ridge. Doss saved the injured men one-by-men by lowering them to a safe spot despite being shot at by the Japanese. His commanding officer said Doss saved over 100 soldiers that day, but Doss admits that it was probably like 50, so they split the difference at 75.
On May 12, Private Doss was injured by a grenade. Instead of asking for help and taking away a medic, Doss cared for his own wounds for five hours. Then Doss was struck in the arm by enemy gunfire, which caused a compound fracture. He bound a rifle to his shattered arm as a splint, and then crawled 300 yards to an aid station with his arm in pieces. That was the closest that Doss ever came to handling a weapon.
He earned the nickname “The Wonderman of Okinawa.”
On October 12, 1945, President Harry S. Truman presented Doss with the Medal of Honor.
Doss was wounded three times during the war and was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which cost him a lung.
Desmond died in 2006 at his home in Piedmont, Alabama.
Hacksaw Ridge stars Hugo Weaving, Sam Worthington, Vince Vaughn, and Teresa Palmer.
It also marks the seemingly triumphant return of Mel Gibson, who directed the upcoming war movie. This is Gibson’s first movie in 10 years since Apocalypto in 2006.
The official plot synopsis for Hacksaw Ridge:
HACKSAW RIDGE is the extraordinary true story of Desmond Doss [Andrew Garfield] who, in Okinawa during the bloodiest battle of WWII, saved 75 men without firing or carrying a gun. He was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon, as he believed that while the war was justified, killing was nevertheless wrong. As an army medic, he single-handedly evacuated the wounded from behind enemy lines, braved fire while tending to soldiers and was wounded by a grenade and hit by snipers. Doss was the first conscientious objector awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Hacksaw Ridge hits theaters on November 4, 2016 and it already looks like a must-see.
If you can’t wait until November, here are the 10 best war films on Netflix.