In keeping with Out of the Box’s recent anniversary theme, today’s post spotlights Lynchburg native Desmond T. Doss (1919-2006), the first conscientious objector to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery on Okinawa in May 1945. Doss, a Seventh Day Adventist, objected to killing and refused to carry a weapon. He served as an Army medical corpsman, 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry Medical Detachment, 77th Infantry Division. Doss is credited with saving the lives of at least 75 wounded soldiers. His Medal of Honor Citation states:
[Doss] was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet high. As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun [sic] fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them 1 by 1 to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands. On 2 May, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly
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While examining Prince Edward County court records for chancery suits, former Local Records Archivist Catherine OBrion found a group of declarations to the justices of the peace of Prince Edward County. The declarants were Revolutionary War veterans seeking to obtain pensions under an act of Congress passed on 7 June 1832. The applicants present detailed testimony of their time of service during the Revolutionary War. Information found in the declarations include date and location applicants entered into service, names of military companies they served in, names of military commanders they served under, names of fellow soldiers they served with, length of service, their ages, and their places of birth. The declarations also include affidavits from witnesses who could verify information provided by applicants.
The predominant portion of the declarations consists of narratives of the veterans’ tours of duty during the Revolutionary War. William Hines, age 78, presented an account of his service under General George Rogers Clarke in present-day Kentucky. Clarke’s army was pursuing Native Americans along the Ohio River. Hines shared how, during the campaign, he was severely wounded by two musket balls which broke both bones of his right arm below the elbow. Hines was personally assured by General Clarke that he would receive a pension. William Worsham, age 80, presented an account of his service from the time the war began in 1775 to the British … read more »
For this week’s Veterans’ Day-themed post, I am going to depart from our usual practice of focusing on images, documents, and stories that Library of Virginia archivists uncover as we process collections. Instead, I would like to share the story of Cecelia Graham and how a chance conversation with my wife led to the emotional discovery of the World War II Separation Notice of Cecelia’s father.
The Virginia World War II Separation Notices was one of the first collections I processed at the Library of Virginia; it contains approximately 250,000 notices for World War II veterans discharged between 1942 and 1950 (with the bulk between 1944 and 1946) who sought employment in Virginia. A disastrous 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis destroyed a large percentage of Army and Army Air Force records in federal custody for veterans discharged between 1912 and 1960. The LVA’s collection of separation notices became invaluable to Virginia’s servicemen and their families after the fire.
These records have been part of the Library’s archival collection since 1950 but they were in no order and the Library did not have the resources to process them. I recognized the importance of the collection and, being young and impatient, I was determined to do “something” about it. That “something” turned into the largest filing project in the LVA’s history. … read more »