By now, you probably know about Corporal Desmond Doss, the World War Two Medal of Honor winner who made his home here in Chattanooga.
He was a medic credited with saving the lives of more than 50 soldiers fighting on Okinawa in World War Two—and the subject of the movie “Hacksaw Ridge.”
Doss was honored Thursday at a wreath-laying ceremony at Chattanooga National Cemetery.
Doss became the first conscientious objector to ever win the medal of honor.
He refused to carry a weapon during the battle for Okinawa where he braved enemy fire to save fellow soldiers.
On the 11th anniversary of his death, Chattanooga friends gathered to honor his memory.
Retired General Carl Levi knew Desmond Doss for more than 50 years.
GEN. CARL LEVI, (RET.) , US ARMY NATIONAL GUARD “Desmond Doss was a…cough…his frame was small but he was a giant among men. He loved God, his family and his country.”
MAJ. GEN. BILL RAINES, USA (RET) “When he received his Medal of Honor, from President Truman—Truman made the following statement: “I would rather have this medal than be president of the United States. It shows you the sacredness of this particular event and heroic action.”
General Raines is chairman of the Charles Coolidge Heritage Center. Coolidge is another Chattanoogan who won the medal of honor.
But this was Doss’ Day.
General Levi remembers Doss once came to the national cemetery and said he wanted to pick out a spot for his grave.
GEN. LEVI “They told him, you’re a medal of honor recipient and you have that privilege. So, he come out here and picked him out a spot, and laid down and made sure it was the right place. (laughs). ”
Silas Maldonado is from Brevard, North Carolina. He came to the observance also.
SILAS MALDONADO, 5TH GRADE, BREVARD, N.C. “My mom, knew him when she was little. Uh, and so, she told me a lot about him, and so, I just thought, I was out of school..I’ll do him.”
GEN. RAINES “….he chose Desmond to write a paper about–posters and uh..so Desmond not only inspires us today, and 72 years ago…but he’s inspiring tomorrow.”
General Raines says the wreath laying event will be held every year on the anniversary of Doss’ death.