The Covington News - - OPINION -

He was just Dad, not a bat­tle-hard­ened Marine, but a loving fam­ily man. Dad held the rank of lieu­tenant colonel when I was born, but my first re­mem­brance of him was as a full-bird colonel. He was not a glory seeker. Dad said his Marines earned him the Medal of Honor in Korea be­cause all he did was point them in the right di­rec­tion.

In World War II, Ray Davis sur­vived Guadal­canal and the hor­rific close-quar­ters com­bat on Peleliu. When North Korea in­vaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, Davis was off to his sec­ond war. He’d re­ceived a call from Col. Homer Litzen­berg, com­man­der of the 1st Marine Reg­i­ment.

Litzen­berg told Lt. Col. Davis, “Get on a train to Pendle­ton, Ray; Marine re­servists are wan­der­ing all over the base. Form up a bat­tal­ion.”

At Pendle­ton Davis re­cruited, if not shang­haied, of­fi­cers of lesser rank. Then they set about with trucks to re­cruit, if not shang­hai, unas­signed Marines.

As com­man­der of the 1st Bat­tal­ion, 7th Marines, Davis and his band of shang- haied Marines set sail for Korea af­ter very limited train­ing. The men sharp­ened their marks­man­ship by shoot­ing at tar­gets off the fan­tail of the ship.

Af­ter par­tic­i­pat­ing in Gen. Dou­glas MacArthur’s rear area en­trap­ment called the In­chon land­ing, Da- vis and his Marines were pulled out and shipped to the eastern side of Korea. MacArthur wanted the Marines to push north, to­ward the Chosin Reser­voir. The Marines were skep­ti­cal, thus pro­ceed­ing with cau­tion.

Spo­radic con­tact with Chi­nese forces built in in­ten­sity. MacArthur, from his head­quar­ters in Ja­pan, dis­re­garded re­ports of Chi­nese troops.

Near­ing the reser­voir, there­after re­mem­bered as the “Frozen Chosin,” up to 100,000 Chi­nese at­tacked the Marine po­si­tions at Yu­dam-ni and Ha­garu-ni. Marines of Fox Com­pany were sur­rounded and trapped at an im­por­tant junc­tion called Tok­tong Pass.

Litzen­berg gave Davis and his Marines the im­pos­si­ble task of re­liev­ing Fox Com­pany. Litzen­berg was re­ported as say­ing, “When I shook hands with Ray and wished him luck, I knew it would be the last time I saw him alive.”

Davis led his Marines, not down the Chi­nese-con­trolled road, but over three treach­er­ous ridge­lines, fight­ing the stunned Chi­nese en route.

Davis’ son, Miles, re­lated his fa­ther’s ex­ploits: “The tem­per­a­ture hov­ered around 30 de­grees be­low zero, with a 60 mph wind. Dad tried to use his com­pass, but it was no good in the freez­ing cold. He’d jump into bomb craters, cover him­self with a rain pon­cho or blan­ket, then use a flash­light to take his bear­ings from the com­pass.

“Once out of the bomb crater, it was so cold he couldn’t re­mem­ber which di­rec­tion to march. So he pulled an of­fi­cer into the bomb crater with him, got his bear­ings again, then told the of­fi­cer where to stand out­side the crater. Emerg­ing from the crater, Dad looked where the of­fi­cer was stand­ing and told his men, ‘We’re head­ing that way.’”

Marine Gen. O.P. Smith said of the re­treat from the Frozen Chosin, “We’re not re­treat­ing. We’re at­tack­ing from a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion.”

All night long in the bit- ter cold, Davis and his in­vin­ci­ble Marines “at­tacked from a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion.”

Marines froze, Marines died, but Davis and his

Mecca, 9A

Sub­mit­ted photo /The Cov­ing­ton News

Gen. Ray Davis led his Marines to help a squadron, which was trapped by a group of Chi­nese soldiers, to a reser­voir known as the Frozen Chosin.

PETE MECCA

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