Family and friends of World War II hero and Medal of Honor recipient Desmond T. Doss Sr. gathered Saturday to celebrate a portion of Alabama Highway 9 named “Desmond T. Doss Memorial Highway” in his honor. Doss was living in the Piedmont area and attending the Piedmont Seventh-day Adventist Church in Cherokee Co. at the time of his death in March of 2006.
Doss was a medic in WWII who refused to carry a weapon because of his religious beliefs. It was in Okinawa where he bravely saved the lives of 75+ fellow soldiers. On May 5, 1945, while under heavy Japanese fire, he lowered his injured comrades over a 400-foot cliff to safety. President Harry S. Truman awarded Doss the Medal of Honor, telling Doss, “This is a greater honor than being President of the United States.” Doss was the first non-combatant to ever receive the Medal of Honor.
Desmond Doss is the subject of a documentary film entitled “The Conscientious Objector” by Terry L. Benedict, (which can be checked out at the Piedmont Library), and Booton Herndon’s biography “The Unlikeliest Hero.”
State Rep. Richard Lindsey and Cherokee County Commissioner Dr. Lori Owens were present August 30th at the Piedmont Seventh-day Adventist Church to present the Resolution, signed by Gov. Riley, to Frances Doss, Desmond’s wife.
Pastor Rick Blythe opened the service by saying: “His legacy continues. He continues to be a witness.” Blythe also honored the many Veterans who were present at the service by having them stand. Among them was Clifford Eads, WWII prisoner of war. Blythe himself is a Navy Veteran.
Dr. Lori Owens stated that when she met Pastor Blythe in March of 2007 he asked her about the possibility of naming a portion of Hwy 9 in recognition of Doss. Commissioner Owens was deeply moved by Doss’ heroic actions and asked for the help of her cousin, Representative Lindsey, to put this into effect.
When making the Presentation of the Resolution, Representative Lindsey said, “I have missed something in life by not knowing Doss personally. It is an honor to serve our country, and greater when able to perform honorable deeds such as Doss did”.
Later in the service when Sid Argo, an Army and Air Force veteran and member of the Piedmont congregation, gave the prayer, he gave thanks to God for leading him to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He had seen an article about Doss five years ago in the Anniston Star and has attended the church ever since.
Gulf States Conference Ministerial Director, Don Shelton, was the guest speaker for the worship hour. He challenged the congregation to live the Word in their own lives, as Doss did in his.