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7Salutes: A Medal of Honor 60 years in the making

Captain Paris Davis shakes President Joe Biden's hand after receiving the Medal of Honor (7News)
Captain Paris Davis shakes President Joe Biden's hand after receiving the Medal of Honor (7News)
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In his early twenties, Captain Paris Davis was already blazing a trail in the U.S. military by becoming one of the very first African-American Special Forces Commanders.

Davis was assigned to lead a group of mostly inexperienced South Vietnamese soldiers and a squad of special forces. In June of 1965, one morning started with the blowing of a bugle. That was the signal for the North Vietnamese forces to attack.

By all accounts, it should have been a route, because a young Capt. Davis was outnumbered and not in the best position.

At a recent Medal of Honor Ceremony, Lt. General Walter Piatt said this about that morning: ”Paris would just not allow the enemy to win, he refused to fall and refused to allow his men to fall. He did what soldiers do when in charge, he took charge. But he did so much more and defined the day differently if he weren’t there.”

In the heat of the battle two of his special forces soldiers were hit and out in the open. Davis ran out into the open and pulled both men to safety. He was shot a number of times in the process, but he never quit, and he never went down.

Instead, he kept fighting and kept directing his troops to victory.

Looking back Davis told me, “One doctor said there were 11 bullets, another said there were 18 bullets in me.”

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After the battle paperwork was submitted not once, but twice for Davis to be given the Medal of Honor for his heroism, and both times that paperwork was lost.

Some believe that happened because he was an African-American and it was the height of the fight for civil rights in our country. Now 58 years after that battle, and Davis’ actions he was awarded the Medal of Honor, and his name is now inscribed in the granite wall at the U.S. Army Museum with the names of all the recipients of this prestigious honor.

I asked Davis about the day: “Did you ever think this day would come?

"No, I did not expect it. I didn’t know how exactly, or what I was going to do, or how I was going to do it, but somehow the good Lord is on my side," he said.

Now in his eighties, Davis is all smiles and harbors no bitterness about how long this recognition has taken.

Instead, he shares with all that it was an honor to serve the country he loves dearly.

“I’m overwhelmed by what has happened," Davis said. "Never in my biggest, or smallest dreams could I ever put myself where I am right now.”

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