MECCA

The Covington News - - OPINION -

res­o­lute he­roes reached and re­lieved Fox Com­pany at the Tok­tong Pass. They be­came known as the “ridge run­ners of Tok­tong Pass,” and no Ma­rine was left be­hind, even if six Marines had to man one stretcher.

Davis’ boss, Col. Litzen­berg, was a tough, no-non­sense WWII bat­tle-hard­ened Ma­rine. When the news ar­rived that Ray Davis and his in­trepid Marines had re­lieved Fox Com­pany, Litzen­berg wept.

Davis and his bat­tal­ion of su­per­men straight­ened them­selves and their gear, then marched as Marines into the har­bor town of Hung­nam for evac­u­a­tion. On Nov. 24, 1952, Pres­i­dent Harry S. Tru­man pre­sented the Medal of Honor to Lt. Colonel Ray Davis.

In Oc­to­ber 1953, Davis was pro­moted to full colonel. By the time he ar­rived in Viet­nam for his third war in March 1968, he wore the two stars of a ma­jor gen­eral.

As com­mand­ing gen­eral, 3rd Ma­rine Di­vi­sion, Davis noted the nor­mally ag­gres­sive fight­ing skills of the Marines were bot­tled-up in de­fen­sive po­si­tions. Davis moved them out to en­gage the enemy. Un­der his lead­er­ship, the North Viet­namese were con­tin­u­ally har­ried without mercy.

Davis stayed air­borne in his chop­per, vis­it­ing his Marines and or­ga­niz­ing the fight­ing. One stand­ing or­der he is­sued: What­ever the cost, the clos­est chop­per lands to help wounded or stranded Marines.

Davis’ chop­per al­ways flew at tree­top level. He was in the field ev­ery day vis­it­ing his Marines, land­ing places he shouldn’t have been, talk­ing to his of­fi­cers, lead­ing from the front and not from the rear.

In Fe­bru­ary 1969, dur­ing Op­er­a­tion Dewey Canyon, Davis landed at a reg­i­men­tal com­mand post to con­verse with the com­mand­ing of­fi­cer. Ad­vised that three wounded Marines were await­ing evac­u­a­tion, Davis or­dered that the Marines be put aboard his chop­per. Among them was his son, Ma­rine Lt. Miles Davis.

Miles said, “Dad flew us to the near­est med­i­cal fa­cil­ity. That’s the way he was, a Ma­rine to the very core of his bones.” Lt. Davis was wounded twice in Viet­nam.

He re­called, “Af­ter Dad pinned the sec­ond Pur­ple Heart on me, he pointed his fin­ger in my face and said, ‘Don’t do this again, Lieu­tenant, and that’s an or­der.’ Dad was a two-star gen­eral, so the only thing I could say was, ‘yes, sir’.”

One of the most dec­o­rated Leath­er­necks in Ma­rine Corps his­tory, Four Star Gen. Ray Davis re­tired on March 31, 1972. He passed from this life on Sept. 3, 2003, at age 88.

Re­mark­ably, Ray Davis never pulled his pis­tol in com­bat and never fired one round at an enemy com­bat­ant. He of­ten told his sons, “If I had to pull my pis­tol we’d al­ready be dead. My job was to be sure my Marines didn’t die in vain.”

He also said, “I have the eas­i­est job in the world. I just tell teenagers with ri­fles where to shoot.”

I of­fer my deep­est ap­pre­ci­a­tion to Ray Davis Jr., Miles Davis, and Willa Davis Kerr for their heart­felt con­tri­bu­tions. I was truly hon­ored to add in some small way to the re­spect­ful mem­ory of the few, the proud, and one hell of a Ma­rine.

Sub­mit­ted photo /The Cov­ing­ton News

Gen. Ray Davis earned his fourth star be­fore re­tir­ing from the Ma­rine Corps on March 31, 1972.

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