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Re: Passing of Gen. Ray Davis
More on Gen Davis:
September 9, 2003
'Marine's Marine' Laid To Rest
By Bill Hendrick, Staff
They trooped in past the flag-draped coffin containing
the body of Gen. Raymond Gilbert Davis, clad in his
beloved dress blues with the blue-ribboned Medal of
Honor clasped tightly around his neck.
Many of the old Marines wore their dress uniforms,
too, including more than a dozen generals who traveled
from Washington to pay final respects to the man who,
until his death Wednesday at age 88, was the most
decorated American alive.
White-haired men, some in wheelchairs and others
holding canes, dabbed at tears as Davis was eulogized
by retired Marine Gen. Robert Barrow, 81, who
described Davis as "the finest man I've ever known, a
Marine's Marine. I loved him," he said, choking with
More than 400 people packed the pews in the sanctuary
and balcony of Davis' church, Conyers First United
Methodist. Hundreds more watched the funeral on
television screens set up in nearby churches and a
Wayne Kerr, representing the family, thanked U.S. Sen.
Zell Miller, who was in the first row of pews to the
right of Gov. Sonny Perdue and the left of U.S. Rep.
David Scott, for nominating Davis for the Presidential
Medal of Freedom, and said the general "left an
example few of us can follow."
Barrow joked that had Davis been alive in "the War
Between the States, William Tecumseh Sherman would
have never gotten into Atlanta."
Men who had known Davis during his service in World
War II, the Korean War or in Vietnam brushed at tears
when two young Marines walked in slowly and stood
rigidly on each side of the coffin. One faced the
casket, saluted, and bent over the body, carefully
removing the Medal of Honor from Davis' neck and
placing it on an 18-inch red velvet sheet, held by the
They both saluted and marched out. The medals were
transferred to a mahogany box and given to Davis' wife
of 62 years, Knox Davis, at the grave site at Forest
Lawn Memorial Gardens in College Park. The flag that
had draped his coffin was presented to her by Gen.
Michael Hagee, commandant of the Marine Corps. Seven
riflemen fired a salute after the casket arrived,
borne on a horse-drawn caisson.
Hero at Chosin
Davis, who won the nation's highest medal for heroism
at the Chosin Reservoir in bitterly cold conditions,
was the most decorated Marine of his generation. He
was one of 94 men -- three Georgians -- to win the
Medal of Honor in the Korean War. His chestful of
awards also included the Navy Cross, the nation's
second highest decoration for bravery, two Silver
Stars and the Bronze Star with Combat "V" for valor.
In his autobiography, Davis told how he led about 700
Marines into what some considered a suicide mission at
Chosin. Told to hold a key mountain pass to relieve a
stranded rifle company and open the way to the sea for
two Marine regiments, Davis led his men through eight
miles of icy terrain against overwhelming Chinese
forces. Davis said a sheen of ice covered his face and
the bodies of all of his men. Davis was wounded in the
fighting, which lasted from Dec. 1 to Dec. 5, 1950.
The general also led a division in the Vietnam War,
then retired in 1972 as assistant commandant of the
Marine Corps he joined in the 1930s.
A native of Fitzgerald in South Georgia, Davis
graduated from Tech High School in Atlanta and Georgia
Tech. He spent his last years living in Conyers, still
active when he died. He spoke often to schoolchildren
and had been scheduled to make a speech Monday in
The church was full of veterans from all branches of
the military. Tommy Clack of Conyers was there in his
wheelchair. He lost three limbs in Vietnam. Also there
were frail men who ran up and down icy hills with
Davis in Korea in December 1950. Two other Medal of
Honor winners were in the church: retired Marine Maj.
Gen. Jim Livingston, 64, who made the trip from New
Orleans, and Harvey Barnum, assistant secretary of the
Mack Abbott, head of the Atlanta chapter of the Pearl
Harbor Survivors Association, led a half-dozen members
of his organization, to which Davis was scheduled to
speak on Sept. 27.
"I loved that man, I always did," said Abbott, holding
the hand of his wife, Alice. "He was the greatest
Marine in history."
South Korea represented
That was a common refrain, from veterans of other
nationalities, too. A contingent of South Korean
Marines sat in silence in an adjacent auditorium.
Louis Lin, 72-year-old chairman of the Republic of
China Veterans Association in Atlanta, was spokesman
for a half dozen members of his group, which he
stressed represented Taiwan, not Communist China.
"General Davis came to us on Aug. 30 and made a
speech," Lin said. "It was his last speech in public.
He was our hero."
When the funeral ended, Hagee walked just behind the
casket as it was carried by seven young Marines to a
white Cadillac hearse. Marines lined both sides of the
street, saluting as the casket was placed inside. As
the hearse inched away, Boy Scouts saluted, as did
elderly residents of Conyers.
"We're all just overwhelmed," said Miles Davis, one of
the general's sons. Miles Davis, 57, was wounded twice
in Vietnam. His Purple Hearts were pinned on by his
father. "We knew he had a lot of friends," he said
Monday, "but we had no idea how many and how strongly
they felt about him."
Members of a group called the Chosin Few for the place
Davis made famous drove long distances to honor him.
Harry Bruce, 75, who was a Marine sergeant in those
"terribly cold days," said driving from Conroe, Texas,
was the least he could do.
"Thanks to General Davis, a lot of people are alive
today who wouldn't have been had it not been for him,"
"He was the last of the generals, the last of the old
breed." -- Retired Marine Master Sgt. Eric English of
"I always enjoyed shaking his hand because I knew I
was touching greatness." -- Mike Breedlove, a Conyers
land planner working with a veterans foundation on a
memorial to Georgia veterans
"Thanks to General Davis, a lot of people are alive
today who wouldn't have been had it not been for him."
-- Harry Bruce, 75, of Conroe, Texas, a sergeant at
Chosin Reservoir in Korea, the action for which Davis
was awarded the Medal of Honor
"He told you exactly what he thought. But, hell, he
earned the right." -- Warren Park, Marine veteran who
knew Davis through a Henry County VFW post
"I loved that man, I always did. He was the greatest
Marine in history." -- Mack Abbott, head of the
Atlanta chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors
-- Compiled by Michael Pearson and Bill Hendrick
--- "M. Katz" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> from Mandy Katz:
> Many of you may already know of the death on
> September 3 in Georgia of
> Gen. Ray Davis, recipient of the Congressional Medal
> of Honor.
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