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WWII hero Desmond Doss honored with two commemorative markers in Lynchburg

Doss saved more than 75 men at Hacksaw Ridge, and refused to carry a rifle.


LYNCHBURG, Va. – A local war hero's efforts from decades ago are back in the spotlight. Desmond Doss was honored Monday with two new commemorative markers.

The Lynchburg native was the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor after he saved more than 70 men during the battle of Okinawa in World War II. His story made headlines last year and put Lynchburg at the national forefront with the movie "Hacksaw Ridge."

Desmond Doss Jr. was emotional as he recounted life with his heroic father, and how much these markers mean.

"You know a lot of people ask me 'What was it like having Desmond Doss as your father? And it's kind of an interesting question because to me he was just my dad, that's it, just my dad," said Doss Jr. 

Desmond Doss Jr. spent much of Monday mingling with old family friends, and fans of his father. Even today, years after his father's passing, the man behind the movie is simply his dad.

"I know that he would just be very pleased and gratified to have the town he grew up in acknowledge that some of the things that happened to him were very extraordinary," said Doss Jr. 

The journey to get these markers here may have been a long one, but the city of Lynchburg along with the American Legion and other community organizations have finally given Doss' story a place to be told.

"While he was recognized all across the country in monuments and statues and memorials and things, that was lacking in Lynchburg, his hometown," said Doss Jr. 

"I'm just proud to see this come to fulfillment. I know it's long overdue and I'm proud to have been a part of it," said David Stokes, president of the Vietnam Veterans Chapter 196. 

Doss Jr. says he hopes the markers will serve as reminder that strength of character can sometimes be the strongest tool we have.

"Hopefully people will become aware of what his message was which is unconditional love, acceptance, forgiveness, compassion for other human beings. That's what he was really all about," said Doss Jr. 

Desmond Doss Jr. will speak about his father's legacy Tuesday at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford at 10 a.m.