The Desmond Doss Foundation can trace its roots to the impact of two films that brought Desmond’s story to the public. A 2004 Award Winning documentary “The Conscientious Objector,” which inspired the 2016 Academy Award Winning motion picture “Hacksaw Ridge.”  So powerful was the global impact of Hacksaw Ridge that in 2018 our Founder Charles Knapp, then Chairman of the Doss Council [an oversight committee] formally organized this foundation to carry forward Desmond’s legacy through initiatives that will benefit society through youth character education, health and assistance programs for veterans and 1st responders.  

The historical path which has led us to where we are today has been filled with many challenges experienced by the following key people: 

Fred Knopper

The Doss Council’s first Chairman and individual Desmond first approached back in1999 to help him make a “little film” about his life to inspire kids to live a moral life. Fred started it all and the people he had a hand in bringing to our team over the ensuing 24 years had no idea of the coming challenges they would overcome. With the foundation now moving forward with its educational initiative, Fred has returned to the key role of editing and preparing our Edusodes for release to the public.

Terry Benedict

Producer/Director of “The Conscientious Objector” [“TCO”] – Dealt with aged WWII veterans who served with Desmond on Okinawa, who were reluctant to recall the horrors of their war time experience. A number of them scheduled to be interviewed became ill or died causing loss of travel monies. The aftermath of the 911 attacks which took away many financial favors were cancelled leaving the project in serious financial shortage. These problems and many more affected completion of the documentary.

Gabe Videla

Executive Producer whose involvement came as the result of an unexpected visit when Terry came to his office in October 2001 to introduce “TCO,” which Gabe knew nothing about. As CEO of Special Effects Unlimited he was busy budgeting support services for the first “Pirates of the Caribbean.” It was a turning point in Gabe’s life as he had quietly been considering producing films on his own. After viewing the 4-minute trailer reel Gabe decided to assist Terry in raising production funds and overseeing the project so Terry could concentrate on directing. Because of his extensive experience in the Film Business dealing with major films Gabe was designated as the exclusive representative for the Doss Council to negotiate the formal agreement with Pandemonium Film and all subsequent assignee Film Industry entities. This was a challenge as Hollywood wanted to depict Desmond’s character with its own creative license, a crucial issue Gabe would not compromise. Desmond had to be portrayed as he was a simple humble young man with no vices or profanities for which Hollywood is famous in distorting. As production of “TCO” moved to completion Gabe reached out to his producing partner, Jeffrey Cordone.

Jeffrey Cordone

Production Executive to oversee special screenings and prepare the documentary for marketing. It was largely through Jeffrey’s efforts “TCO” was entered into various film festivals where it won 23 top awards. Of essential contribution was Jeffrey’s nursing skills, one of his many career qualifications that enabled us to travel the country with Desmond who required special attention to his health needs one of which was constant availability of oxygen. When “Hacksaw Ridge” was released to worldwide acclaim, Jeffrey’s administrative management talents were called upon to join the Doss Foundation as a member of our Advisory Board to head the Desmond Doss Memorial Golf Tournament that was going to facilitate fund raising. His success in this endeavor led to Jeffrey’s elevation in 2020 to become a full board member and Acting President with the retirement of Charles Knapp our Founder in 2022. Jeffrey has taken on his new responsibilities with zeal, and he is now spearheading our Character Development Educational initiative.

Bill Mechanic

Producer of “Hacksaw Ridge” – CEO of Pandemonium Films, & former President of Fox Studios and Buena Vista Distributing, contractually optioned the theatrical rights to Desmond’s story. Bill’s financial risks and perseverance in the face of many rejections and late production funding shortfalls which he personally covered, led to his ultimate victory in seeing Desmond’s story successfully completed and seen by hundreds of millions of people around the world. It is Bill’s greatest film achievement and has established his legacy in the annals of filmmaking.

COL Charles Knapp, US Army (Ret.)

Founder & President Emeritus of the Doss Foundation, and former Chairman of the Doss CouncilCharles, whose talents of leadership in the US Army made him the point man who has led us to where we are today. His many efforts cannot be over stated and are too many to list here. His 2015 trip to Australia during principal photography as Special Consultant enabled Charles to cement relationships with Bill Mechanic and Mel Gibson giving him a firsthand experience of filmmaking at its highest level. This was culminated by Gabe’s invitation to join him at the 2017 Academy Awards where he witnessed Hollywood’s honoring “Hacksaw Ridge” as one of 2016’s finest films. It was that night of February 26th, 2017 – that The Doss Foundation’s roots were sown in Charles’ mind.

 So here we are 24 years later, dedicated to inspiring society. The task is daunting, but like Desmond attending to his wounded fellow soldiers on the battlefield – we’re up to sustaining our mission of carrying forward Desmoid’s life values to impact lives, it’s one thing to know about Doss, it’s another thing to #LiveLikeDoss™.

Our Board of Directors

Gabe Videla


Location: Thousand Oaks, CA

  • CEO, D’Artagnan Entertainment, inc.
  • CEO, Special Effects Unlimited (SEU), inc.
  • Executive Producer, documentary, “The Conscientious Objector.”
  • Associate Producer, feature film, “Hacksaw Ridge.”
  • Member, Desmond Doss Council
COL Charles Knapp, U.S. Army, MD. (Ret.)

Chairman | CEO

Location: Lansing, NC

  • DDF Acting Treasurer
  • Past Chair, Desmond Doss Council, Georgia Cumberland Association
  • Special Consultant to the Producers, Hacksaw Ridge
  • Commander US Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory
  • Command Surgeon, Two Unified Commands
  • Chair, North Carolina Project ASSIST
Jeffrey Cordone, RN

Acting President
Chairman, DDMGT

Location: Thousand Oaks CA

  • 25-years indi Film Producer | Production Supervisor
  • Production Executive, documentary, “The Conscientious Objector.”
  • Executive Administration & Management
  • Consulting Healthcare Professional
  • Covid-19 Compliance Officer

Don Livesay

Director | Secretary

Location: Calhoun, GA

  • Member, Advent Health, Gordon Board of Directors
  • Member, Advent Health Church Leadership Development
  • President, Lake Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
  • President, Oregon Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
  • VP/Administration, Oregon Conference

Major General Austin Renforth
“Sparky” U.S.M.C. (Ret.)


Location: Surprise, AZ

  • Graduate US Naval Academy
    Impressive 30 + year career
    Last assignment Major General Commanding Officer of the US Marine Air & Ground Forces Base at 29 Palms, CA the largest Marine Base in the world.
  • Retired from military service in 2023
  • Currently a speaker to various civic, military, educational & business organizations.
  • His respect for Desmond Doss’ incredible heroism and selfless acts on the battlefield impressed Austin to join the Doss Foundation.
  • We are proud to have this accomplished patriot with us.

Jaye Lene Long

Director of Communications and Publicist

Location: Prescott, AZ

  • SR Community Engagement Specialist – National Team, Honor And Remember, Inc
  • Owner and Digital CEO of Beyond The Vision Media
  • Co-founder / Exec Director to Hope Fest Arizona.
  • Co-founder / Exec Director of Hope Serves Inc.
  • Director of Business, Ministry and Community Partners, Arizona Shine Radio
  • National Outreach & Marketing, In Recovery Magazine
  • Relations Manager, Association for Marriage & Family Ministries

Richard Stenbakken,
Ed. D.  Chaplain (Colonel) U. S. Army, (Ret.)

Director, Education

Location: Loveland, CO

  • Col (Chaplain) USA, Ret.
  • Director, Family Life Ministries, US ARMY Chaplain Board Division Chaplain, 4th Infantry Division
  • Director of Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries
  • Chair, National Conference Ministries for Armed Forces
  • Masters Degrees in: Theology and Philosophy; New Testament Studies; Family Therapy; Family and Community Education.

Fred Knopper

Director, Founding Agent

Location: Ooltewah, TN

  • Past Chair, Desmond Doss Council
  • Television Producer/Director
  • Media Producer, Video Editor
  • Creative Director, Photographer, Art Director, Graphic Designer
  • Resource Developer, Marketing Director, PR and Communications Director
  • Adventist Media Center, North American Division of SDA
  • Promotions and Marketing Director, Adventist Media Ministries

Dr. Timothy T.K. Jung


Location: Loma Linda, CA

  • Surgeon, Inland Ear Head & Neck Clinic
  • Clinical Professor, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center

CAPT Doug Ehrhardt
U.S. Navy, PhD. (Ret.)


Location: Fleetwood, NC

  • Navy Liaison, Armed Services Biomedical Research, Evaluation and Management Committee
  • Deputy Director, Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine, USUHS, Bethesda, MD
  • President, North Carolina Council, Military Officer Association of America

Roger Rustad

Director, Veteran’s Affair

Location: Laguna Hills, CA

  • Director of Spiritual Care, Sonoran Winds Hospice
  • Retired ordained SDA pastor
  • Hospice and Trauma Chaplain
  • Director of Development-NPOs
  • Foundation and major gifts
  • Bereavement and Grief Counselor
  • Working with veterans facing end of life.

Karl Weisenbeck


Location: Tryon, NC

  • Native of Rochester NY
    B.A. Communications & Journalism from St. John Fisher College
  • B.S in Packaging Science Rochester Institute of Technology
  • MBA from University of Rochester Karl is a
  • CEO Funeral Home Gifts a specialty company of textile products to the funeral market
  • President Operation 223 a non-profit dedicated to helping young people prepare for military service
  • Karl brings a passion for America’s military and desire to be a part of our foundation on a number of levels he solicited on his own.

John Swafford


Location: Calhoun, GA

  • Member, Desmond Doss Council
  • Director, GA & E. TN state youth programs for the Georgia-Cumberland Conference
  • Ordained Minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church – Retired
  • Field Representative, Adventist Youth Ministry Museum
  • Director, International Pathfinder Training Teams
  • Adjunct Faculty, Southern Adventist University

Ellen Hostletler


Location: Collegedale, TN

  • Vice President of Advancement Southern Adventist University
  • Director of Development, It Is Written, oldest US-based television ministry
  • Executive Director/Administrator, Life Care Centers of America, Crossville, Tennessee
  • Assistant Executive Director, Life Care Centers of America, New Port Richey, Florida
  • Design and production, University Press of Florida
  • Business School Faculty, Southern Adventist University

Our Advisory Board

Robert Rothbard

Film Producer, Director & Screen Writer

Location – (Westlake, CA)

A graduate of Temple University’s
School of Radio, TV, Film & Theater, Robert has a successful 44 year career in Film Entertainment. His admiration of Desmond’s story and 20-year supportive friendship to our foundation has lead to his joining our Advisory Board.

Jonathan McGraw, Chaplain (Colonel) U. S. Army, (Ret.) 

Last Post: Chief of Chaplain | Pentagon

Master’s degrees in: Strategic Studies; Organizational Development; Organizational Ethics; Theology; Pastoral Counseling.

Gus Lee

Leaders of Character

Former U. S. Army paratrooper
JAG officer
Ethics Professor at West Point – 18 years

Stan Beasley

Location: (Benton, TN)

Science Teacher Collegedale, TN Academy , Board of Education Member, Member Executive Committee Georgia-Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Ardent admirer of Desmond Doss & Doss Foundation

Fernando Verduzco

Youth Character Honor

Location: (Calhoun, GA)

Richard (Ric) Kolseth

IT | Webhost | Advisor

Location: (Todd, NC)

Ashley Johnson (The PC Works)

Web Designer | Advisor

Location: (Knoxville, TN)