- The Washington Times - Monday, November 10, 2003

The following accounts of Medal of Honor winners are based on the new book “Medal of Honor,” by Peter Collier, published by Artisan in collaboration with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.

Desmond T. Doss

A devout Seventh-day Adventist, Desmond Doss wanted to serve his country but chose not to bear arms, so he joined the Army’s Medical Corps. The Lynchburg, Va., native served with the 77th Division on Guam and Leyte in 1944.On Okinawa, in the

late spring of 1945, his battalion was assaulting a jagged escarpment rising up 400 feet whose summit was commanded by well-entrenched Japanese forces.

On May 5, a Saturday and Pvt. Doss’ Sabbath, he was the only medic available. Telling himself that Christ healed seven days a week, he advanced with the rest of the men. The enemy concentrated massive artillery, mortar and machine-gun fire on them, driving most of them back down the face of the escarpment and leaving dozens of casualties behind.

Pvt. Doss alone stayed with the fallen soldiers. Under constant fire, he tended the wounded, then dragged them to the edge of the escarpment and lowered them in a rope sling. By nightfall, he had rescued 75 GIs.

Mr. Doss lives in Georgia.

Joseph J. Foss

When he graduated from fighter-pilot school in 1941 at 26, Joe Foss was considered too old for combat and was made a flight instructor. He kept lobbying for a flying assignment and in 1942 was made executive officer of Marine Flying Squadron 121 in time for the battle of Guadalcanal.

Between Oct. 9 and Nov. 19, 1942, Capt. Foss shot down 23 Japanese planes and was himself shot down four times during the five-week battle. In January 1943, he led a group of 12 American planes against a superior force of Japanese bombers and fighter escorts. His squadron took down four enemy Zeros — Capt. Foss himself accounting for three of them — and forced the Japanese to turn back without dropping a bomb.

By the time he returned to the United States in the spring of 1943, Capt. Foss had 26 confirmed kills, equaling Eddie Rickenbacker’s World War I record.

Mr. Foss died Jan. 11 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Wesley L. Fox

After enlisting in the Marines in 1950, Wesley Fox served in the Korean War and rose through the ranks to become a first lieutenant in 1967.

On Feb. 22, 1969, he was commanding a rifle company in the South Vietnam’s A Shau Valley, near the Laotian border, and led an attack on a strong North Vietnamese army position. Wounded by a grenade, he moved forward under heavy machine-gun fire and killed an enemy sniper.

Wounded again in his back and legs, he continued to direct his Marines and called in an air strike. The North Vietnamese began to pull back. Lt. Fox refused medical aid, established a defensive position and prepared his casualties for evacuation. Eleven of his men were killed in action and 58 wounded; 105 enemy dead were counted on the battlefield.

He retired from the Marines in 1993 and now lives in Virginia.

Daniel K. Inouye

Fighting in Italy in 1944, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team took heavy casualties. Daniel Inouye received a battlefield commission and was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant.

On April 21, 1945, Lt. Inouye’s company was ordered to attack a heavily defended ridge near San Terenzo. His platoon wiped out an enemy patrol and observation post.

Advancing ahead of the rest of the American force, Lt. Inouye’s platoon came under fire from three German machine guns. Though wounded, Lt. Inouye threw a grenade into one machine-gun nest, then advanced and killed the crew. He knocked out the second bunker with two more grenades.

The rest of his platoon was forced back. Dragging himself toward the third machine-gun nest, he was about to throw his last grenade when a German fired a rifle grenade that virtually tore off Lt. Inouye’s right arm at the elbow. Lt. Inouye threw the grenade left-handed and advanced on the bunker, firing his tommy gun. He was hit in the leg by a German bullet, but refused evacuation until the position was secured.

A Hawaii Democrat, Lt. Inouye was elected to the U.S. House in 1954 and to the Senate in 1962.

Alfred V. Rascon

Born in Mexico, Alfred Rascon was 4 when he came to the United States with his parents. At 17, he enlisted in the Army and became a medic in the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

In a firefight in South Vietnam’s Long Khanh province on March 16, 1966, Spc. Rascon ignored orders to stay sheltered and ran forward to tend the wounded. Spc. Rascon was wounded by a grenade and rifle fire, but carried ammunition to a wounded machine gunner.

When he saw a grenade land near a wounded sergeant, Spc. Rascon threw his body over the man. The explosion blew off Spc. Rascon’s helmet and rucksack.

In 1969, he was commissioned a lieutenant and returned to Vietnam for a second tour. He now lives in Maryland.

James B. Stockdale

On Sept. 5, Capt. James Stockdale’s Navy A-4E jet was shot down over Than Hoa, North Vietnam. The force of ejection broke his left knee and left shoulder.

Capt. Stockdale spent eight years in communist prisons, three in solitary confinement. As the senior officer at the notorious “Hanoi Hilton,” he organized the men to keep their captors from breaking their spirit and using them for propaganda. He established a command structure among American POWs and set up a “tap code” so they could communicate between their cells.

In 1969, when the North Vietnamese indicated they planned to use him in a propaganda film, he beat his own face bloody and cut his scalp with a dull razor. Identified as the leader of the POW resistance, he was thrown into solitary confinement until his release in 1973.

He retired as a vice admiral in 1977 and lives in California.


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