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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Hacksaw Ridge

Hacksaw Ridge is the incredible true story of Corporal Desmond T. Doss, a mild-mannered Seventh-day Adventist medic who joined up in World War II as a conscientious objector. Doss rejected the label, calling himself a conscientious cooperator.  His stubborn faith is something we don't see much in this world anymore. His exploits as a medic changed the way the Army utilized medics in the Pacific. Doss actually badgered his commander into letting him go out with his unit. Ordinarily stretcher bearers brought the wounded back to the aid station where the medics would treat them. A lot of guys didn't make it back. By going with his unit, Doss was able to save a lot of lives. At first the men in his unit hated Doss and mistreated him trying to force him out. He stood firm and eventually not only won the respect of his fellow soldiers, but they came to consider him their lucky charm, at one point balking at moving forward without Desmond with them.

Three pineapples for this one.
I watched several ignorant critics review the movie who marked it down because Doss's exploits in the movie were unrealistic. The truth is that director Mel Gibson actually toned down Doss's history for the movie because he didn't think people would believe what actually happened. A lot of people didn't believe it anyway. Unlike the movie, Doss continued with his unit after the action on Hacksaw ridge and was wounded by the grenade a couple of days later. After he was wounded, the stretcher bearers taking him to the aid station came under fire. Doss saw other wounded men, rolled off the stretcher and went to treat them. He ordered the stretcher bearers to carry the other wounded to the aid station first. While treating the wounded, Doss was himself wounded in the arm by a sniper, bound it up with a rifle butt and crawled 300 yards to the aid station on his own.

It's a story of faith and courage and patriotism, something a lot of this generation's precious snowflake movie critics just don't get. One of the best war films, if not the best war film I've ever seen. I just wish Gibson had shown the rest of the true story - the bit no one would believe. Unlike the movie depicts, Doss fought on Guam and Leyte before he went to Okinawa, earning two Bronze Stars before he won the Medal of Honor at Hacksaw Ridge. A former Japanese sniper who fought on Hacksaw years later told Doss he'd had the young medic in his sights multiple times that day, but every time he tried to pull the trigger his gun jammed. You kinda have to believe in the supernatural to believe that one. I do. He lost his Bible crawling back to the aid station. Months later, in the hospital, Doss received a package in the mail. It was his Bible. His whole unit had scoured the battlefield, with snipers still taking potshots at them, found his Bible and sent it to him.

His unit was remarkable in and of itself. The 77th division fought alongside a Marine Battalion who were so impressed by the courage of the Army guys, they nicknamed Doss's Division the 77th Marine Battalion, a mark of real respect by the Marines.

Doss was protected by angels. Even toned down, the movie leaves little room for doubt that Doss was protected. I do believe the devil wanted him badly. He didn't get Doss though. He came home and lived to a good old age, though disabled by his wounds.

This movie gets 3 pineapples for staying as close to the truth as any recent movie based on a true story.  Good for you Mel.

© 2017 by Tom King

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