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First Name: Arthur

Last Name: Davis

Birthplace: Columbia, SC, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Cayley

Date of Birth: 14 March 1893

Date of Death: 10 February 1965

Rank or Rate: Admiral

Years Served: 1915-1955
Arthur Cayley Davis

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1915

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Arthur Cayley Davis
Admiral, U.S. Navy

Arthur Cayley Davis was born on 14 March 1893 in Columbia, SC. He attended the University of Nebraska from 1909-11 and then entered the U.S. Naval Academy. Davis graduated with the class of 1915 and was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.

After serving in various assignments appropriate to a young naval officer, Davis attended flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL, and was designated a Naval Aviator in 1923. Davis was a pioneer of dive bombing, having helped to develop dive bombing techniques, and the bombsight, during his tenure in the Bureau of Aeronautics and the Bureau of Ordnance in 1925. In 1934, Lieutenant Commander Davis was commander of the Ranger Air Group. From 1936-39, he served as Head, Plans Division, Bureau of Aeronautics, U.S. Navy.

In 1939-40, Davis was Commanding Officer of the USS Langley, the Navy's first carrier which, on 26 February 1937, had been converted to a seaplane tender and assigned hull classification symbol AV-3. During the time that Davis was in command, Langley briefly deployed with the Atlantic Fleet from February-July 1939, and then steamed to assume her duties with the Pacific Fleet at Manila.

Davis served as Aviation Officer, Staff of Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, during 1940. On 7 December 1941, the date of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Captain Arthur C. Davis was Fleet Aviation Officer assigned to the Staff of the Commander-in-Chief (Admiral Nimitz), U.S. Pacific Fleet. He served in that assignment from 7 December 1941 to 30 June 1942. Davis was named to take command of the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5) at the time of the Midway operation, but the ship was lost (sunk 7 June 1942) before he could assume command.

From 30 June to 21 October 1942, Rear Admiral Davis was Commanding Officer of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6). Under his command, Enterprise sailed for the South Pacific on 15 July where she joined Task Force 61 to support the amphibious landings in the Solomon Islands on 8 August. For the next two weeks, the carrier and her planes guarded seaborne communication lines southwest of the Solomon's. On 24 August, a strong Japanese force was discovered some 200 miles north of Guadalcanal, and TF-61 sent planes to attack. This was the first time that the Grim Reapers of VF-10 deployed from the Enterprise under commanding officer James H. Flatley, who became known as "Reaper Leader." In the ensuing Battle of the Eastern Solomon's, the Japanese light carrier Ryujo was sent to the bottom, and the Japanese troops meant to land on Guadalcanal were forced back. The Enterprise suffered most heavily of the American ships; three direct hits and four near misses from dive bombers killed 77, wounded 91, and inflicted serious damage on the carrier. Quick, hard work by damage control parties patched her up so that she was able to return to Hawaii under her own power.

For his actions on 24 August, Davis received the Navy Cross. In part, the citation said: "By his remarkable seamanship, resourcefulness and his outstanding skill in maneuvering his ship, Rear Admiral Davis met the vigorous Japanese dive-bombing attack coolly and courageously, holding the damage by bomb hits to the ENTERPRISE to a minimum and, in turn, inflicting heavy casualties on the attacking enemy planes."

After leaving Enterprise, Rear Admiral Davis served as: Commander, Carrier Replacement Squadron, Atlantic Fleet, 1942; Commander, Fleet Air, Atlantic Fleet, 1942-43; and Assistant Chief of Staff, Atlantic Fleet, 1943-44.

He then served as Chief of Staff to the Commander, Fifth Fleet, Admiral Raymond Spruance, from September '44 to July '45. Davis was reluctantly chosen by Admiral Spruance as his new Chief of Staff after Admiral King, Chief of Naval Operations, ordered that all commanders with a surface background must have a chief of staff with an aviation background (and vice versa.) Davis proved a capable and congenial Chief of Staff to Spruance in spite of the "shotgun marriage" aspects of the assignment. Davis was described as a "lean, rough, aggressive leader who "moved decisively and intelligently."

Vice Admiral Davis served as Director, The Joint Staff, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as Deputy United States Representative to the Standing Group, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), during the period 20 September 1949 to 16 August 1953. On 1 November 1953, Davis became Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs and Director of Foreign Military Affairs, where he remained until 19 April 1954.

Vice Admiral Davis served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (International Security Affairs), from 20 April 1954 until his retirement.

Upon his retirement in in April 1955, he was advanced to the four-star rank of Admiral. *

* The Act of Congress of 4 March 1925, allowed Navy officers to be promoted one grade upon retirement if they had been specially commended for performance of duty in actual combat. These promotions were colloquially known as "tombstone promotions" because they conferred the prestige of the higher rank but not the additional retirement pay, so their only practical benefit was to allow recipients to engrave a loftier title on their business cards and tombstones. An Act of Congress on 23 February 1942, enabled tombstone promotions to three- and four-star grades.

Medals and Awards

Navy Cross (3 awards)
Distinguished Service Medal (2 awards)
Legion of Merit (3 awards)

The USS Enterprise (CV-6) also was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for the period for 7 December 1941 to 15 November 1942, which covered the time during which Davis was her commanding officer.


An honor bestowed on Davis was the renaming of an Antarctic glacier the "Arthur Davis Glacier" by US-SCAN for Admiral Davis as a leader in aviation in the U.S. Navy. The 25-mile long glacier was discovered in aerial flights and from ground surveys in November-December 1940, as part of the Antarctic Expedition of 1939-41 led by Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd.

Death and Burial

Admiral Arthur Cayley Davis died on 10 February 1965, and was survived by his wife, Eunice W. Davis. She died in 1974 and is buried with her husband at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.


Honoree ID: 492   Created by: MHOH




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