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