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Featured item: ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ famous medic’s hand saw

Cpl. Desmond Doss, conscientious objector, medic, WWII hero of Hacksaw Ridge and Medal of Honor recipient
Cpl. Desmond Doss, conscientious objector, medic, WWII hero of Hacksaw Ridge and Medal of Honor recipient.

The hero of Hacksaw Ridge

Desmond Thomas Doss (February 7, 1919 – March 23, 2006) was a United States Army corporal who served as a combat medic with an infantry company in World War II. A conscientious objector – or as he called himself, “a conscientious cooperator”  – Desmond Doss refused to kill an enemy soldier or carry a weapon into combat because of his personal beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist.

As a medic assigned to 2nd Platoon, B Company, 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division, Doss was twice awarded the Bronze Star Medal for exceptional valor in aiding wounded soldiers while under fire in Guam and the Philippines. He is perhaps best known for his actions in the Battle of Okinawa, where he single-handedly saved 50–75 wounded infantrymen atop the area known by the 96th Division as the Maeda Escarpment or Hacksaw Ridge.

His life has been the subject of books, the documentary “The Conscientious Objector” and the critically acclaimed 2016 film “Hacksaw Ridge.”

Doss was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Okinawa, becoming the first conscientious objector to receive that distinction. (Tom Bennett was the only other such recipient, for his service, also as a medic, during the Vietnam War.)

Medal of Honor recipients 

March 25 is National Medal of Honor Day. This month, our Fine Autographs and Artifacts auction’s featured Military section offers personally owned artifacts from a decidedly unique MOH hero.

Medal of Honor recipient Desmond Doss Hacksaw Ridge RR Auction
A hand saw owned by Medal of Honor recipient Desmond Doss. Offered by RR Auction.
Desmond Doss Hacksaw Ridge RR Auction
A hand saw owned by Medal of Honor recipient Desmond Doss. Offered by RR Auction.

First, we present Desmond Doss’ personally owned and used crosscut hand saw with open wooden handle, measuring 19.75˝ in length, marked on the handle, “25–01–9900,” and signed on the blade in black felt tip, “Desmond Doss, CMH.” Affixed to the handle is an impressed bronze ID tag, “Desmond T. Doss, Medal of Honor, Personal Effects—Artifacts, 027.” In very good condition, with expected signs of use and age. Accompanied by a letter of provenance from his Pastor and longtime friend, Les Speer. Shortly before his death in 2006, Doss sold his small mountain farmstead and modest possessions at auction, and personally signed a few of those items. This hand saw is one such item.

We’re pleased to note that proceeds from the sale of this item will go entirely to the Medal of Honor Heritage Center.

Desmond Doss In God's Care book RR Auction
“Desmond Doss: In God’s Care” book. Offered by RR Auction.

MOH men: Doss, Davis

We also have a group lot of four items signed by Medal of Honor recipients Desmond Doss or Ray Davis, including: a soft cover copy of “Desmond Doss; In God’s Care,” published by the College Press in 1998, signed on the title page in black ballpoint, “Desmond T. Doss, C. M. H.,” and by his wife and the book’s author, “Frances M. Doss”; a first edition of The Story of Ray Davis, hardcover, published by Research Triangle Publishing in 1995, signed and inscribed on an opening page in black ballpoint, “To Jim, with all best wishes! Ray Davis, General, USMC (retired), Medal of Honor, Korea, 8/8/98”; affixed to the first free end page is a Post-It note annotated and signed in black ballpoint by Davis: “Note, Photo on pg 14 not available—maybe copy from book? Substitute photo enclosed. Ray Davis.” Also included is a glossy 8 x 10 photo of Davis in his military uniform, signed in silver ink, “Ray Davis, General, US Marine, Medal of Honor.” In overall fine condition. Accompanied by the original mailing envelope for the Doss book, which has been addressed in Doss’s own hand.

The Desmond Doss crosscut hand saw sold at auction for $1,256.

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