Medal of Honor
DAVIS, SAMMY L.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 4th Artillery, 9th Infantry Division
Place and date: West of Cai Lay, Republic of Vietnam, 18 November 1967
Entered service at: Indianapolis, Indiana
Born: 1 November 1946, Dayton, Ohio
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Davis (then Pfc.) distinguished himself during the early morning hours while serving as a cannoneer with battery C at a remote fire support base. At approximately 0200 hours, the fire support base was under heavy enemy mortar attack. Simultaneously, an estimated reinforced Viet Cong battalion launched a fierce ground assault upon the fire support base. The attacking enemy drove to within 25 meters of the friendly positions. Only a river separated the Viet Cong from the fire support base. Detecting a nearby enemy position, Sgt. Davis seized a machine gun and provided covering fire for his gun crew, as they attempted to bring direct artillery fire on the enemy. Despite his efforts, an enemy recoiless rifle round scored a direct hit upon the artillery piece. The resultant blast hurled the gun crew from their weapon and blew Sgt. Davis into a foxhole. He struggled to his feet and returned to the howitzer, which was burning furiously. Ignoring repeated warnings to seek cover, Sgt. Davis rammed a shell into the gun. Disregarding a withering hall of enemy fire directed against his position, he aimed and fired the howitzer which rolled backward, knocking Sgt. Davis violently to the ground. Undaunted, he returned to the weapon to fire again when an enemy mortar round exploded within 20 meters of his position, injuring him painfully. Nevertheless, Sgt. Davis loaded the artillery piece, aimed and fired. Again he was knocked down by the recoil. In complete disregard for his safety, Sgt. Davis loaded and fired 3 more shells into the enemy. Disregarding his extensive injuries and his inability to swim, Sgt. Davis picked up an air mattress and struck out across the deep river to rescue 3 wounded comrades on the far side. Upon reaching the 3 wounded men, he stood upright and fired into the dense vegetation to prevent the Viet Cong from advancing. While the most seriously wounded soldier was helped across the river, Sgt. Davis protected the 2 remaining casualties until he could pull them across the river to the fire support base. Though suffering from painful wounds, he refused medical attention, joining another howitzer crew which fired at the large Viet Cong force until it broke contact and fled. Sgt. Davis' extraordinary heroism, at the risk of his life, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.
Sammy L. Davis, Vietnam 1967
"The world is supported by four things only.
The learning of the wise,
The justice of the great,
The prayers of the righteous,
The valor of the brave.
To your own self be true."
--Sammy L. Davis, 2001
This photograph of Sammy L. Davis was taken May, 1985 on board the USS Intrepid at the Vietnam Veterans Parade and Party in New York City.
Thanks to David Hockenberry firstname.lastname@example.org for taking the above photograph and providing this site with a copy.
During a December, 2000 tour to troop bases in Europe and the Balkans, Medal of Honor recipient Sammy L. Davis played his harmonica in tribute to a fallen comrade. At Ramstein Air Base, Germany, he explained why: "During my tour of duty in Vietnam, my Mama sent me a harmonica; since we were artillery, the enemy always knew where we were anyway. I would sit out on guard and play the harmonica. My sergeant would come walking by -- Sgt. Johnston Dunlop -- and he asked me to learn how to play "Shenandoah." So every time he'd come walking by, he'd say, 'Play it again, Sam.' Today, when I play for my sergeant, I have to go to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. He's on panel 50 East."
This photo is circa 1985. Thanks to Sammy Davis for the photo
Thanks to Sammy Davis for the above photo
Sammy writes on 17 September 2002:
This photo is of the Navy Seals Scout Sniper graduation class of February 2002. I was with them this last weekend. I spoke to them on Friday evening for three hours and then attended the graduation party on Saturday. It was an awesome party; the Seals started asking questions that they wanted to ask Friday but were too shy to ask at that time. We sat up till 2:30 am Sunday morning talking and I tried to answer their questions. It was excellent; I really got to know them on a personal level. I have had the privilage of spending time with every class at the scout sniper school. I share with them things I learned in the Nam and I try to apply it to their circumstances today. It really seems to work for them.
The man in the top row in the blue civialian clothes is TURBO He lost his leg trying to save Neal Roberts in Afghanistan. Neal was the Seal that fell out of the helicopter...
The following e-mail was received from Jim Deister on 31 March 2000:
Hello, I tuned into your website on Sam at the advice of one of my friends. It is a very good website. . . I was the most seriously wounded soldier that he brought back across the river (actually it was a canal, and Sam and I have discussed this).
Sam is one of the bravest individuals that I know, although he will only tell you that he was doing what was right. He has alot of integrity.
Jim Deister, 2760 Linda Lane, Salina, Kansas 67401
Thanks to Don Kelby for the above announcement of the dedication cermony of the Sammy L. Davis Federal Building.
Since Sammy L. Davis entered the military in Indianapolis, Indiana, I have decided to post this photo on his citation page.
The photo is of the Indianapolis, Indiana Medal of Honor Memorial which was dedicated May, 1999. Thanks to Jeff Barrie for the photograph.
The Memorial is located in downtown Indianapolis near the intersection of West Street & Ohio Street. It is to the west of that intersection; along the canal walk just east of White River State Park.
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