• Mon. Mar 6th, 2023

Bravery and Sacrifice: The Story of Paris Davis and the Medal of Honor.


Mar 6, 2023
President Joe Biden presents retired Army Col. Paris D. Davis with the Medal of Honor during a ceremony at the White House, March 3, 2023. (Image credit: White House)

(GCSS) – Retired U.S. Army officer Paris Davis was awarded the Medal of Honor on March 3, 2023, for his actions during the Vietnam War. The presentation of the award took place at a White House ceremony, where President Joe Biden praised Davis for his courage and bravery.

This award is a long-overdue recognition for Davis, who was twice previously nominated for the Medal of Honor but both times, the paperwork relating to his nomination disappeared. Instead, he was awarded the Silver Star in 1965. The Medal of Honor ceremony for Col. Davis finally occurred 57 years, 8 months, and 16 days after the events noted in his citation.

“You’re looking at courage in the flesh,” Biden said during the ceremony. “Paris volunteered to serve a country that in many places still refused to serve people who looked like him. Right away, it was clear that Paris was a born warrior.”

Then-Army Capt. Paris D. Davis is awarded a Silver Star on Dec. 15, 1965. Davis received the award for his actions during a battle in Bong Son, Republic of Vietnam, June 17-18, 1965. (Image credit: US Army)

On 18 June 1965, Davis was serving as the commander of Detachment A-321, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces during combat operations in South Vietnam when he was cited for his bravery. He was an advisor to the 883rd Regional Force Company and led the company in a successful nighttime raid against a Viet Cong regional headquarters. However, the company was ambushed on their way back from the raid, and Davis had to rally the inexperienced and disorganized company to return fire.

“Davis consistently exposed himself to hostile, small-arms fire to rally the inexperienced and disorganized company,” reads his Medal of Honor citation. “He expertly directed both artillery and small-arms fire, enabling other elements of the company to reach his position. Although wounded in the leg, he aided in the evacuation of other wounded men in his unit, but refused medical evacuation himself.”

Despite being wounded twice, Davis refused medical evacuation and remained with the troops, fighting bravely and providing pivotal leadership and inspiration to the regional force company as it repelled several Viet Cong assaults on their position over a period of several hours.

“With complete disregard for his own life, he braved intense enemy fire to cross an open field to rescue his seriously wounded and immobilized team sergeant,” the citation states. “While carrying the sergeant up the hill to a position of relative safety, Davis was again wounded by enemy fire. Despite two painful wounds, he remained with the troops, fought bravely, and provided pivotal leadership and inspiration.”

When friendly reinforcements finally arrived, Davis again refused medical evacuation until he had recovered an advisor under his command who had been wounded during the initial ambush and was presumed dead. He directed the helicopter extraction of his wounded colleague and did not leave the battlefield himself until all friendly forces were recovered or medically evacuated.

“Davis directed the helicopter extraction of his wounded colleague not leaving the battlefield himself until all friendly forces were recovered or medically evacuated,” the citation states.

Retired Army Col. Paris D. Davis does media training at the Pentagon, Feb. 27, 2023, ahead of Medal of Honor ceremonies. Davis is set to receive the Medal of Honor for acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a detachment commander with the 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces during combat operations against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Bong Son, Vietnam in June 1965. (Image Credit: Bernardo Fuller, US Army)

After serving in the United States Army for 25 years, Paris Davis retired and continued to make a positive impact in his community. He earned a Ph.D. and founded the Metro Herald newspaper in Alexandria, Virginia, which reported on community news and civil rights issues. Through his work in journalism, Davis made a difference in the lives of many people and continued to inspire others with his bravery and dedication.

We had just finished a successful raid on a Viet Cong Regimental Headquarters, killing upwards of one hundred of the enemy. The raid had started shortly after midnight. We had four Americans and the 883rd Vietnamese Regional Force Company participating in the raid. After the raid was completed the first platoon of the 883rd Company broke and started to run just about the same time I gave the signal to pull in the security guarding the river bank. I went after the lead platoon, MSG Billy Waugh was with the second platoon, SSG David Morgan was with the third platoon and SP-1 Brown was with the fourth platoon.

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. It was up front and the main body of the platoon was hit by the machine gun. 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.

I immediately ordered the platoon I had to return the fire, but they did not – only a few men fired. I started firing at the enemy moving up and down the line, encouraging the 883rd Company to return the fire. We started to receive fire from the right flank. I ran down to where the firing was and found five Viet Cong coming over the trench line. I killed all five and then I heard firing from the left flank. I ran down there and saw about six Viet Cong moving toward our position. I threw a grenade and killed four of them. My M16 jammed, so I shot one with my pistol and hit the other with my M16 again and again until he was dead.

MSG Waugh started to yell that he had been shot in the foot. I ran to the middle of the open field and tried to get MSG Waugh, but the Viet Cong automatic fire was too intense and I had to move back to safety. By this time SSG Morgan, who was at the edge of the open field, came to. He had been knocked out by a VC mortar round. He told me that he was receiving sniper fire. I spotted the sniper and shot him in his camouflaged manhole. I crawled over and dropped a grenade in the hole killing two additional Viet Cong.

I was able at this time to make contact with the FAC CPT Bronson and SGT Ronald Dies. CPT Bronson diverted a flight of 105’s and had them drop their bombs on the enemy’s position. I ran out and pulled SSG Morgan to safety. He was slightly wounded and I treated him for shock. The enemy again tried to overrun our position. I picked up a machine gun and started firing. I saw four or five of the enemy drop and the remaining ones break and run. I then set up the 60mm mortar, dropped about five or six mortars down the tube and ran out and tried to get MSG Waugh. SSG Morgan was partially recovered and placing machine gun fire into the enemy position.

I ran out and tried to pick up MSG Waugh, who had by now been wounded four times in his right foot. I tried to pick him up, but I was unable to do so. I was shot slightly in the back of my leg as I ran for cover. By this time CPT Bronson had gotten a flight of F-4s. They started to drop bombs on the enemy. I ran out again and this time was shot in the wrist, but I was able to pick up MSG Waugh and carried him fireman style, in a hail of automatic weapon fire, to safety. I called for a MEDEVAC for MSG Waugh. When the MEDEVAC came I carried MSG Waugh about 200 yards (180 m) up over a hill. As I put MSG Waugh on the helicopter, SFC Reinburg got off the ship and ran down to where the 883rd Company was located. He was shot through the chest almost immediately. I ran to where he was and gave him first aid. With SSG Morgan’s help I pulled him to safety.

The enemy again tried to overrun our position. I picked up the nearest weapon and started to fire. I was also throwing grenades. I killed about six or seven. I was then ordered to take the troops I had and leave. I informed the Colonel in the C&C ship that I had one wounded American and one American I didn’t know the status of. I informed the Colonel that I would not leave until I got all the Americans out. SFC Reinburg was MEDEVACed out. The fighting continued until mid-afternoon. We could not get the Company we had to fight. The enemy tried to overrun our position two more times. We finally got reinforcements and with them I was able to go out and get SP-1 Brown who lay out in the middle of the field some fourteen hours from the start until the close of the battle.

Col. Paris Davis