“Sammy Lee Davis is a true American hero, and it was an honor and a privilege to recognize him today for his incredible service to this great country,” said Rep. Heaton. “After meeting such a remarkable Hoosier, it was clear that Davis did not risk his life for personal gain or glory but rather viewed his heroic actions as just part of the job. He is one of the most selfless and humble individuals I have ever met and stands for everything great this country represents.”
Since the Medal of Honor was first presented in 1863, more than 3,400 individuals have received the prestigious award but only 78 are still alive today –including Davis. On Nov. 19, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson presented Davis with the award for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity” during the Vietnam Conflict.
In 1967, Private First Class (PFC) Davis, part of the 9th Infantry Division, was stationed at Firebase Cudgil when soldiers sleeping on the base were awakened to a simultaneous fierce ground assault and motor attack by Vietnamese forces. As the enemy continued to push forward, PFC Davis used a machine gun to provide cover fire for his artillery crew that was operating a Howitzer cannon in order to keep the forces from advancing.
Suddenly, a mortar round stuck the artillery piece, stripping PFC Davis and his crew from the weapon. While still shocked from the initial blast, PFC Davis ignored intense enemy fire, returned to the cannon, which was now in flames, loaded a shell and fired another round. PFC Davis was knocked violently to the ground due to the intense recoil of the malfunctioning cannon. Despite sustaining multiple injuries and disregarding his personal safety, he returned to the weapon and fired several additional times, resulting in further lacerations.
Soon thereafter, PFC Davis noticed several wounded soldiers, some presumably dead, on the other side of a nearby river. Ignoring his injuries and inability to swim, he found an inflatable bed on the ground and used it as a floatation device to rescue the wounded soldiers. After reaching them, PFC Davis provided cover fire while waiting for additional soldiers to bring the wounded to safety. Once rescued and after several casualties were out of harm’s way, PFC Davis continued to ignore his painful injuries and joined another artillery crew to keep the enemy from advancing.
Due to the outstanding bravery of the soldiers in the 9th Infantry Division, most notably Davis, the Vietnamese troops were forced to retreat.
“As someone who has fought and served in Vietnam, Davis’s story is inspiring and deserving of the nation’s highest military decoration,” said Rep. Baird. “It is always an honor to be in the presence of such a selfless individual who despite being injured and wounded put his life in harm’s way to rescue his fellow soldiers. Davis is a great Hoosier and true American hero.”
In honoring Davis's great bravery and heroism, a provision in the resolution approved by the Roads and Transportation Committee authorizes two highway memorial signs to be erected at the entrances of State Road 46 and U.S. Route 231 in Owen County.
Visit www.in.gov/legislative to learn more about House Concurrent Resolution 3 or www.in.gov/legislative/house_republicans to learn more about Reps. Heaton and Baird.