Seventh-Day Adventist Church via AP
Desmond T. Doss Sr. smiles broadly in an undated photo. Doss, the only conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor for non-combatant achievements in World War II, died Thursday at 87.
updated 3/24/2006 7:39:46 PM ET 2006-03-25T00:39:46

Desmond T. Doss Sr., a conscientious objector whose achievements as a noncombatant earned him a Medal of Honor in World War II, died Thursday. He was 87.

His death was announced by Seventh-day Adventist Church officials in Calhoun, near where he lived for many years. Doss died Thursday in Piedmont, Ala., where he and his wife had been staying with her family, said Pastor John Swafford.

Doss, who refused to carry a weapon during his wartime service as a medic, was the subject of a book, "The Unlikeliest Hero," and a 2004 documentary, "The Conscientious Objector."

He was invited to the White House in October 1945 to receive the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award, from President Truman for his bravery in April and May that year.

On the island of Okinawa, he carried 75 wounded soldiers through a fire-swept area to the edge of a 400-foot cliff and lowered them to safety, according to his citation.

Later, the medic braved enemy shelling to treat an artillery officer. He also crawled to a wounded soldier who had fallen 25 feet from the enemy's position, rendered aid and carried the man 100 yards to safety while exposed to shooting.

During a night attack, he was seriously wounded in the legs by a grenade, his citation said. Five hours later, others began carrying him to safety, but he saw a more critically injured man and crawled off his stretcher, directing the medics to aid the other wounded man.

While awaiting their return, he was struck again. He bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and crawled 300 yards to an aid station, the citation said.

‘Conscientious cooperator’
Doss "voluntarily joined the Army as a conscientious objector," church officials said in a statement. "He was harassed and ridiculed for his beliefs, yet he served with distinction.

"Doss never liked being called a conscientious objector," the statement said. "He preferred the term conscientious cooperator."

A statue of Doss was placed on July 4, 2004, in the National Museum of Patriotism in Atlanta.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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