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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Medal of Honor Recipient Sammy Davis Talks with Lawrence County Veterans Monday

LAWRENCE COUNTY - APRIL 3, - 2023 - Lawrence County Veterans was privileged to hear Medal of Honor Recipient Sammy Davis Monday morning reflecting on his time in Vietnam.


Sammy Davis served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and was awarded the nation's highest military medal for valor, the Medal of Honor


Davis was born in Dayton, Ohio on November 1, 1946, and raised in French Camp, California.


Davis's family had a long tradition of military service; his grandfather served in the Spanish American War, his father Robert was in World War II, and his brothers Hubert (Buddy) and Darrell Davis served in Korea and Vietnam, respectively.


Video: Sammy Davis talks with Lawrence County Veterans on Monday morning


Davis attended Manteca High School, in Manteca, California where he was member of the football and diving teams.


After his junior year of high school, the Davis family moved to Indiana where he graduated from the Mooresville High School in 1966.


Davis military career began in the United States Army after enlisting in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1965.



In March 1967, Davis was sent to South Vietnam as a private first class and assigned to Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 4th Artillery Regiment, 9th Infantry Division.


On November 18, 1967, his unit at Firebase Cudgel west of Cai Lay, fell under machine gun fire and heavy mortar attack by an estimated three companies of the Viet Cong from the 261st Viet Cong Main Force Battalion, which swarmed the area from the south and west. Upon detecting an enemy position, Davis manned a machine gun to give his comrades covering fire so they could fire artillery in response.


Video: Davis talks about the harmonica


Davis was wounded, but ignored warnings to take cover, taking over the unit's burning howitzer and firing several shells himself.


He disregarded his ability to swim due to a broken back and crossed a river there on an air mattress to help rescue three wounded American soldiers. He ultimately found his way to another howitzer site to continue fighting the NVA attack until the fled. The battle lasted over two hours.


Photo: Reese Ritter receives a harmonica from Sgt. Sammy Davis after asking him a question


Davis was promoted to sergeant and received the Medal of Honor the following year from Lyndon B. Johnson. After he was presented the Medal of Honor at the White House he played " Oh Shenandoah" on his harmonica in memory of the men he served with in Vietnam.


Video: Davis plays " Oh Shenandoah" during his visit on Monday


Davis retired in 1984 due to his war time injures. In 1994 footage of his Medal of Honor award ceremony was used in the film Forest Gump with actor Forest Gump, his head superimposed over Davis.


In July 2005, while in Indianapolis, Davis's medal was stolen from his vehicle, and recovered a few days later in White River.



Davis allowed those who attended over an hour to ask questions about anything, many of those who could easily relate as they served in Vietnam themselves.


Davis has met every U.S. President since Lyndon Johnson and has went down to visit Johnson's Ranch in Texas, however President Johnson was never there. However, he did get to meet Lady Bird and his daughters.


Photo: Bedford Mayor Sam Craig shakes hands with Sgt. Sammy Davis Monday morning


Davis did go back to meet his enemies, and stated those meetings went well and was needed.


Video: Sammy and Dixie Davis


Sammy Davis remarried following his wife death, Peggy who passed away in 2004, and married to Dixie Taylor. Dixie accompanied him today, signing autographs of their two books. " You Don't Loose Until You Quite Trying" Sammy Lee Davis with Caroline Lambert and " Endless Love and Second Chances" Dixie Davis with Sherry Maves.


The Lawrence County Veterans was glad to hear from Davis which is the second time he made his appearance in Lawrence County over the past several years.


For breaking news, news and information go to lczephyr.org or like/follow the Lawrence County Zephyr Facebook page.


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