Robert Davenport was a typical Manteca kid.
He hit the Foster Freeze, enjoyed hanging out with friends, and watched the latest flicks at the El Rey Theatre.
Those who knew him noted he was always quick to help someone in need.
After his father died when he was 3 years old, Davenport took it upon himself to look after his mother.
He was doing what he did best - looking out for others - in Vietnam on Feb. 7, 1969. The Army Airborne sergeant caught a glimpse of movement in the thick jungle growth that would expose the point squad. He motioned to his radio operator in the direction of the movement but due to almost imminent contact did not have time to alert the entire squad.
In complete disregard for his own safety, he moved toward the enemy before they could attack the unsuspecting point squad. He forced the enemy to expose their position thus saving the point squad from coming under devastating hostile fire. Sgt. Davenport paid the ultimate price for looking after his fellow soldiers and his country.
His actions earned him the bronze Star with the “V” Device for valor. But the honor got sidetracked and ended up in the Plumas County Veterans Service Office.
Sgt. Davenport’s Bronze Star has finally made it to his family. It will be presented on Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov. 11, at 9 a.m. at the Central Valley Baptist Church services on North Airport Way and again during 11 a.m. ceremonies conducted by the Veterans of Foreign War and America Legion at Library Park.
The family’s hope - in honoring Davenport’s character - is to not only recognize the Manteca High graduate but all veterans.
“I can walk down the street barefoot in Manteca because of what veterans have sacrificed,” noted Davenport’s cousin Martha Johannsen.
She said the family would be honored to have the opportunity to honor all Vietnam veterans and their families who wish to attend either ceremony.
Davenport was one of 17 Manteca men who fell while serving America in Vietnam. His name - and on of the 16 others - are upon plaques that grace stones set in front of Brock Elliott School named in honor the first Manteca soldier to die. The school’s student body is having their own Brock Elliott Day program and celebration on Friday, Nov, 9, at the 1110 Stonum Lane campus courtyard at 9:30 a.m. to honor the fallen Marine as well as recognize the sacrifice made by other Manteca soldiers.
Both Davenport and Elliott where childhood friends as they grew up in Manteca.
Johannsen noted that her cousin was attending Delta College when he got the call to serve his country. He dreamed of becoming a veterinarian.
She recalls how Davenport’s dog - a cocker spaniel mix named Sandy - climbed onto a bench in front of a window at his home when her cousin went off to war. She spent most of her time there waiting for Davenport to return. It was there where she eventually died.
The certificate and general orders stayed in Plumas County until June 1986 when the office there sent a letter to the Department of the Army saying they had the certificate and asked for the next of kin and their address to forward the award.
The request was forwarded to Davenport’s mother. Somehow, though, the certificate made its way to Congressman Wally Herger’s office in Chico. It was there that Herger’s District Director Fran Peace invested a lot of time to track down the family.
The local ceremonies have been arranged with the help of Penny Winston and Art Smith of the American Legion, Carlon Perry of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Ron Green of the San Joaquin County Veterans Services.