Dr. Charles Knapp of Helton returned to Ashe County this week from Beverly Hills, Calif., where he attended the 2013 Academy Awards Gala Sunday.
Knapp, a retired U.S. Army colonel, is consulting producer for the motion picture “Hacksaw Ridge,” which tells the true story of World War II Medal of Honor winner Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector to be honored with America’s highest military award for valor above and beyond the call of duty in the face of enemy fire.
During almost 30 years of service in the Navy and Air Force, as well as the Army, Knapp had the privilege of serving with several soldiers, airmen and Marines who were Medal of Honor recipients. “A rare honor anyway you look at it,” he said.
“I guess that is why I was asked to participate in making sure Desmond Doss‘s legacy is preserved,” he said. “It is an honor and has my full attention.”
Knapp is chairman of the Desmond Doss Council of the Georgia Cumberland Association in Calhoun, Ga., which holds the life story, intellectual property, book and film rights and memorabilia in trust for the late Desmond Doss, who died in 2006.
During some of the bloodiest fighting of the Battle of Okinawa, Pfc. Doss, a U.S. Army medic, single-handedly saved over 75 lives in one day, Knapp said. Treating his wounded comrades in the face of withering rifle, machine gun and mortar fire, Doss lowered them to safety over the 75-foot Maeda Escarpment with a rope.
In later combat encounters, Doss was credited with saving several dozen more lives before being severely wounded, he said.
Knapp previously was involved in production of the 2004 documentary, “The Conscientious Objector,” in which Doss’ story is told by the men of his company whose lives he saved — including his commanding officer and first sergeant — some of whom were stern antagonists of his conscientious objector status.
“Conscientious objector” was a draft-era classification for conscripts willing to serve, but unwilling to take human life, and is no longer available in today’s all-volunteer military, Knapp said.
“During WWII, anyone who didn’t train with combat weapons was chastised and bullied,” he said. “Other men in the platoon or company thought unless the medic had a gun he couldn’t be trusted to have your back.”
Knapp has also overseen republication of “The Unlikeliest Hero” by Booten Herndon. “Out of print since 1963, it is again available as a middle school book across America for curricula about American heroes and American men of faith,” he said.
Currently in preproduction by Walden Media (“Chronicles of Narnia,” “Charlotte’s Web”), “Hacksaw Ridge” treats the story of Doss’s unlikely heroism “at the intersection of patriotism and personal faith,” Knapp said. Bill Mechanic, former CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment is producing the film.
Dr. Knapp is available to show “The Conscientious Objector,” and provide commentary to groups of all sizes, especially veterans, youth and church groups.
For more information, email Dr. Charles Knapp at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.roosterridgearts.com