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First Name: Sammy

Last Name: Davis

Birthplace: Dayton, OH, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Indianapolis, IN
Middle Name: Lee

Date of Birth: 01 November 1946

Rank: Sergeant First Class

Years Served: 1965-1984
Sammy Lee Davis

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Sammy Lee Davis
Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
Vietnam War

Sammy Lee Davis is a retired U.S. Army Sergeant First Class who was a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in the Vietnam War.

The Early Years

Davis was born on 1 November 1946 in Dayton, OH, and was raised in French Camp, CA. His family had a long tradition of military service; his grandfather served in the Spanish-American War, his father Robert Davis was in World War II, and his brothers Hubert ("Buddy") and Darrell Davis served in Korea and Vietnam, respectively. Davis attended Manteca High School in Manteca, CA, where he was a member of the football and diving teams. He also participated in Sea Scouting in Stockton. After his junior year of high school, Davis' family moved to Indiana.

Military Service

In 1965, Davis joined the Army from Indianapolis, IN. On 18 November 1967, he was serving as a Private First Class with Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 4th Artillery Regiment, 9th Infantry Division, in the Republic of Vietnam.

On that day, his unit was west of Cai Lay when they fell under heavy mortar attack by the Viet Cong as around 15,000 VC swarmed the area. Upon detecting an enemy position, Davis manned a machine gun to give his comrades covering fire so they could fire artillery in response. Davis was wounded, but ignored warnings to take cover, taking over the unit's burning howitzer and firing several shells himself. He also disregarded his inability to swim (due to injuries; Davis knew how to swim), crossing a river on an air mattress to help rescue three wounded American soldiers. He ultimately found his way to another howitzer site to continue fighting the VC attack until they fled. He was subsequently promoted to Sergeant and received the Medal of Honor in 1968.

Medal of Honor

Citation: 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 guncrew, as they attempted to bring direct artillery fire on the enemy. Despite his efforts, an enemy recoilless rifle round scored a direct hit upon the artillery piece. The resultant blast hurled the guncrew 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 hail 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.

Sergeant Sammy Lee Davis was presented with the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon B. Johnson on 19 November 1968 at a White House Ceremony.

Davis was forced to retire from the U.S. Army in 1984 due to his injuries.

The Post-Military Years

In July 2005, while in Indianapolis, Davis' Medal was stolen out of the trunk of his car. It was recovered a few days later in neighboring White River. He currently lives in Flat Rock, IL.

Davis helped celebrate the 100th birthday of the Boy Scouts of America on 4 July 2010, at Arlington Park. Davis entered scouting at the age of 9.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Silver Star Medal
Purple Heart with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal


Footage of his Medal of Honor award ceremony was used in the 1994 film Forrest Gump, with actor Tom Hanks' head superimposed over that of Davis.

Honoree ID: 922   Created by: MHOH




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