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War hero joining Hall of Fame

Medal of Honor recipient being inducted May 1

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War hero joining Hall of Fame

President George Bush greets Sammy Davis at a White House reception.

Photo contributed/

POSTED April 1, 2010 2:01 a.m.
Sammy Davis — a man whose bravery beyond the call of duty in the Vietnam War made him a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient — is being inducted into the 2010 Manteca Hall of Fame.

The dinner and induction ceremonies for the Hall of Fame take place Saturday, May 1, at the Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane. Tickets are $40 apiece and are available at the Manteca Boys & Girls Club, 545 Alameda St., or by calling 239-KIDS.

Other members of the Class of 2010 are Richard Durham Sr., education; Evelyn Prouty, community service; Susie Beeler, at large; Kurt Giovannoni, education; Dr. Mel Larson, health care; Gail Perry, business; and Janet Dyk, agriculture.

Davis, 63, is one of 91 Congressional Medal of Honor recipients alive. Presidents, in the name of the United States Congress, have awarded 3,448 medals since the Civil War.

Davis grew up in French Camp where he fondly remembers playing in canals during the summer to cool off.

At Manteca High, he played left tackle on the Buffaloes football team and was on the dive team.

It was also at Manteca High where he was influenced by several teachers including Bill Forbes.

“He (Forbes) taught me to stand up for what I thought was right in my heart,” Davis said during an interview three years ago.

Davis attended Manteca High through his junior year. After that, his family moved to Indiana. He enlisted in the Army in Indianapolis.

Davis’ decision to enlist in the military at the height of the Vietnam War was a no-brainer for him.

“It was my time to serve,” Davis recalled.

His father, Robert Davis, served in World War II. Brother Hubert “Buddy” Davis served in the Korean War and brother Darrell Davis served in the Vietnam War. His grandfather also served in the Spanish-American War.

Davis has been a Sea Scout in Stockton. Because of that, when he went to the recruitment center, his intent was to join the Marines.

“This is the truth,” Davis said when he started to explain why he joined the Army,  “I don’t like standing in lines. The line to join the Army was shorter, so I got in that line and joined the Army.”

The defining moment of Davis’ life took place nearly 43 years ago in November 1967 west of Cai Lay in the Republic of Vietnam.
Davis was a 21-year-old sergeant with the U.S. Army, Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 4th Artillery, 9th Infantry Division.

A number of his seriously wounded comrades were hollering out for help across a deep Vietnam river as 1,500 enemy troops were advancing on 42 Americans. Davis didn’t worry about the fact he was wounded so he couldn’t swim or that heavy incoming fire threatened to end his life at any second.

Davis helped fire rounds back at the enemy located some 25 meters away when mortars hit American artillery positions and gravely injured three of his comrades. Between valiant efforts to keep the enemy from advancing, Davis grabbed an air mattress and struck out across the river to rescue his wounded comrades one by one. Each time he reached the far shore Davis stood up and opened fire on the enemy to prevent them from advancing and finishing off the three soldiers.

Though suffering from critical wounds, Davis’ heroics continued after he pulled the last man back across the river. He refused medical attention and instead joined another howitzer crew that fired at the large Viet Cong force until it broke contact and fled.

Davis literally grew up in Vietnam sprouting up seven inches and adding 40 to 45 pounds to his frame.

“The military is a way of life, it’s a brotherhood,” said Davis in 2007. “There is no doubt in my mind that every one of my fellow soldiers would have swam across that river to get me.”
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