On March 3, 2023, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., will award the Medal of Honor to Colonel Paris D. Davis, United States Army, Retired, for conspicuous gallantry.
Then-Captain Paris D. Davis distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Commander of Detachment A-321, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, during combat operations against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Bong Son, Republic of Vietnam, June 17-18, 1965. Captain Davis, commanding an inexperienced South Vietnamese regional raiding force, learned that a vastly superior North Vietnamese enemy force was operating in the area. Through surprise and leadership, he gained the tactical advantage, personally engaging and killing several enemy soldiers. Wounded while leading the initial assault, Captain Davis continued moving forward, personally engaging the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. Launching a counterattack, the superior enemy force separated Captain Davis from his main Regional Force Company. Charging under the intense enemy fire, Captain Davis personally led four others in the destruction of enemy gun emplacements and captured more enemy personnel. Afterwards, Captain Davis moved to regroup his forces and break contact with the enemy to allow his expertly guided tactical air and artillery fire to obliterate the foe. However, the enemy again counter-attacked in superior numbers and Captain Davis was struck by automatic weapons fire. So close was the charging enemy soldier that shot him, Captain Davis engaged him in close-quarter combat and was again wounded in the process of defeating this soldier. Captain Davis then led his men to reorganize into abandoned enemy fighting positions as he continued to call for artillery and air support. Realizing two of his fellow Americans were incapacitated and unable to move while trapped by enemy fire, Captain Davis located their positions and moved to suppress enemy guns and personally rescue each to the safety of the friendly Company position. While enacting the rescue of the first American, Captain Davis was shot in the leg. In great pain he continued forward and dragged him to the Company perimeter. Captain Davis then exposed himself again to the intense enemy fire to rescue the second American, crawling 150 yards to complete the rescue while being hit by enemy grenade fragments. After rescuing the second fellow American, Captain Davis then personally directed the helicopter extraction for the wounded, but refused medical extraction for himself. Captain Davis continued to engage the enemy until all members of his Company were extracted. He remained on the battlefield to continue personal coordination of tactical air and artillery fire, ensuring the destruction of the enemy force.
Paris Davis was commissioned a Reserve Component officer on June 1, 1959, and received Airborne and Ranger qualifications in 1960, and Special Forces qualification in 1962. His initial overseas tours included Korea, Vietnam (1962-1963), and Okinawa, Japan. Then-Captain Davis performed multiple heroic acts during his second tour in Vietnam (April 1965 to October 1965), during which he received the Silver Star, Bronze Star Medal with “V” device, Purple Heart with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Air Medal with “V” device. He received a Master of Science degree from Southern Illinois University in 1973, and a Master of Public Administration and Doctorate from Northern Virginia University in 1977. After retiring from military service July 30, 1985, he went on to publish a small newspaper in Virginia. A resident of Arlington County, Virginia, Colonel Davis was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame in 2019.
THE MEDAL OF HONOR:
The Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their own lives above and beyond the call of duty while:
engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;
engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.
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