18 June 1965

Captain Paris Davis and three of his Special Forces team led the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) 883rd Regional Forces Company in an attack on a Viet Cong (VC) base.

“We had just finished a successful raid on a Viet Cong Regimental Headquarters, killing upwards of one hundred of the enemy,” Davis wrote. “It was just beginning to get light (dawn) when I caught up to the first platoon and got them organized and we were hit by automatic machine gun fire… I was hit in the hand by a fragment from a hand grenade. About the time I started moving the platoon back to the main body, I heard firing and saw a wounded friendly VN soldier running from the direction of the firing. He told me that the remainder of the 883rd Company was under attack. I moved the platoon I had back towards the main body. When I reached the company, the enemy had it pinned down in an open field with automatic weapons and mortar fire.”

Davis and his men were soon surrounded. All of his team had been wounded. Alone, he engaged the enemy, at one point resorting to using his jammed M-16 as a cudgel in hand-to-hand combat.

Davis moved to rescue a wounded team member and was shot in the leg and wrist. In a hail of automatic weapons fire, he carried the man 200 yards up a hill to a MEDEVAC. When one of the rescuers was shot in the chest, Davis gave first aid and pulled him to safety.

Davis was ordered twice to retreat as the enemy continued to try to overrun his position. He replied that he would not leave until he had gotten everyone out.

When reinforcements arrived 14 hours later, Davis rescued the last of his wounded men and evacuated the area. The man, SP-1 Robert Brown, was gravely injured. Davis could see his head wound, the brain pulsating. Brown asked Davis, “Am I gonna die?” “Not before me,” Davis replied.

Davis was twice recommended for the Medal of Honor for his actions. Each time, the paperwork was lost. It took 58 years, but Davis’ actions were finally recognized, and he will receive the medal next month.

Davis’ award comes as a result of years-long efforts by a volunteer team that pieced together the Medal of Honor paperwork through archival searches and the Freedom of Information Act. They have learned that Davis was universally respected by everyone under his command, described by those they interviewed as the best officer they’ve ever served under.

Watch an interview with Colonel Davis>