Ray Davis (U.S. Marine)

Ray Davis (U.S. Marine)

Infobox Military Person
name= Raymond Gilbert Davis
born= birth date|1915|1|13
died= Death date and age|2003|9|3|1915|1|13
placeofbirth= Fitzgerald, Georgia
placeofdeath= Conyers, Georgia

caption=Davis as Assistant Commandant in 1971
nickname= Ray
allegiance=United States of America
branch= United States Marine Corps
serviceyears= 1938-1972
rank= General
commands= 1st Special Weapons Battalion 1st Battalion, 1st Marines 1st Battalion, 7th Marines 1st Battalion, 1st Marines SEATO Expeditionary Brigade, EXLIGTAS 3rd Marine Division Marine Corps Development and Education Command
battles= World War II *Battle of Guadalcanal *Battle of Peleliu Korean War *Battle of Inchon *Battle of Chosin Reservoir Vietnam War
awards= Medal of Honor Navy Cross (2) Distinguished Service Medal (2) Silver Star Legion of Merit (2) Bronze Star Purple Heart Presidential Medal of Freedom

Raymond Gilbert "Ray" Davis (January 13, 1915 – September 03, 2003) was a highly decorated United States Marine Corps officer, serving in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. His single most notable endeavor was the salvation of hundreds of trapped Marines during the 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir while commanding the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. His final rank, appointed by President Nixon, was General. He retired from the post of Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps on March 31, 1972, after more than 33 years with the Marines.

Davis had a close relationship with Chesty Puller, serving with him on Guadalcanal and in Korea.

Early years

Davis was born on January 13, 1915, in Fitzgerald, Georgia, and graduated in 1933 from Atlanta Technical High School, Atlanta, Georgia. He then entered the Georgia School of Technology, graduating in 1938 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering. [cite web
accessdate= |url=http://www.gendavisfund.gatech.edu/bio.html
title=General Davis: Biography |publisher=General Ray Davis Memorial Endowment
] While in college he was a member of the ROTC unit. After graduation, he resigned his commission in the U. S. Army Infantry Reserve to accept appointment as a Marine second lieutenant on June 27, 1938.

Marine Corps career


In May 1939, 2dLt Davis completed the Marine Officers' Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and began a year of service with the Marine Detachment on board the USS|Portland|CA-33 in the Pacific. He returned to shore duty in July 1940 for weapons and artillery instruction at Quantico, Virginia, and Aberdeen, Maryland. Completing the training in February 1941, he was assigned to the 1st Antiaircraft Machine Gun Battery, 1st Marine Division at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He returned to the United States with the unit in April, and the following month was appointed battery executive officer, serving in that capacity at Parris Island, South Carolina, and Quantico. He was promoted to first lieutenant in August 1941. That September, he moved with the battery to the Marine Barracks, New River (later Camp Lejeune), North Carolina. Upon his promotion to captain in February 1942, he was named battery commander.

World War II

During World War II, he participated in the Guadalcanal-Tulagi landings, the capture and defense of Guadalcanal, the Eastern New Guinea and Cape Gloucester campaigns, and the Peleliu operation.

Beginning in June 1942, he embarked with his unit for the Pacific area, landing at Guadalcanal two months later. After that campaign, he was appointed Executive Officer of the 1st Special Weapons Battalion, 1st Marine Division. He was promoted to major on February 28, 1943. In October of that year, Major Davis took over command of the battalion and served in that capacity at New Guinea and Cape Gloucester. In April 1944, while on Cape Gloucester, he was named Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division.

Major Davis' action while commanding the 1st Battalion at Peleliu in September 1944 earned him the Navy Cross and the Purple Heart. Although wounded during the first hour of the Peleliu landing, he refused evacuation to remain with his men; and, on one occasion, when heavy Marine casualties and the enemy's point-blank cannon fire had enabled the Japanese to break through, he personally rallied and led his men in fighting to re-establish defense positions. In October 1944, he returned to Pavuvu and was promoted to lieutenant colonel.


Returning to the United States in November 1944, LtCol Davis was assigned to Quantico as Tactical Inspector, Marine Corps Schools. He was named Chief of the Infantry Section, Marine Air-Infantry School, Quantico, in May 1945, and served in that post for two years before returning to the Pacific area in July 1947 to serve with the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade on Guam. He was the 1st Brigade's Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3 (Operations and Training), until August 1948, and from then until May 1949, was Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4 (Logistics). Upon his return from Guam in May 1949, he was named Inspector-Instructor of the 9th Marine Corps Reserve Infantry Battalion in Chicago, Illinois. He served there until August 1950 when he embarked for Korea.

Korean War

In Korea, LtCol Davis commanded the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, from August to December 1950. During this time one of his men described him as, "...from Georgia and soft spoken. No gruff, no bluff. Never talked down to you and made you feel comfortable in his presence [Russ "Breakout", p.12.] " He earned the nation's highest decoration for heroism, the Medal of Honor, during the 1st Marine Division's fight to break out of the Chosin Reservoir area. There, against overwhelming odds, he led his battalion in a terrific four-day battle at Yudam-ni after which he marched his battalion at night, over mountains in a driving snowstorm to save Captain William Barber's Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines from annihilation at the Toktong Pass. This action also opened the mountain pass to Hagaru-ri allowing the two trapped Marine regiments to escape and link up with the rest of the division at Hagaru-ri. [Russ "Breakout", pgs.284-302.] The award was presented to him by President Harry S. Truman in a White House ceremony on November 24, 1952.

In addition to receiving the Medal of Honor for action during that period, he twice earned the Silver Star Medal for exposing himself to heavy enemy fire while leading and encouraging his men in the face of strong enemy opposition. He also received the Legion of Merit with Combat “V” for exceptionally meritorious conduct and professional skill in welding the 1st Battalion into a highly effective combat team. Later, as Executive Officer of the 7th Marines, from December 1950 to June 1951, LtCol Davis earned the Bronze Star with Combat "V” for his part in rebuilding the regiment after the Chosin Reservoir campaign. He returned from Korea in June 1951.


Ordered to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D. C., LtCol Davis served in the Operations Subsection, G-3, Division of Plans and Policies, until February 1952, when he took charge of the subsection. In April 1953, he became Head of the Operations and Training Branch, G-3 Division. While serving in this capacity, he was promoted to colonel in October 1953.

The following July Col Davis attended the Special Weapons Employment Course, Fleet Training Center, Norfolk, Virginia, under instruction. In September 1954, he entered the Senior Course, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico. Upon completing the course in June 1955, he served consecutively as Assistant Director and, later, Director, of the Senior School. In October 1957, he was again transferred to Washington, D. C., and served there as Assistant G-2, Headquarters Marine Corps, until August 1959.


In June 1960, he completed the course at the National War College in Washington, D.C. Assigned next to Headquarters, United States European Command, in Paris, France, he served from July 1960 through June 1963, as Chief, Analysis Branch, J-2, Staff of the Commander in Chief, Europe. On July 1, 1963, he was promoted to brigadier general while en route to the United States.

Brigadier General Davis' next assignment was in the Far East where he served as Assistant Division Commander, 3rd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, on Okinawa, from October 1963 to November 1964. During this period, he also performed additional duty as Commanding General, SEATO Expeditionary Brigade, EXLIGTAS, in the Philippines, during June 1964; and as Commanding General, 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, in China Sea Contingency Operations, from August 2, to October 16, 1964.

In December 1964, he was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps. He served as Assistant Director of Personnel until March 1965, then served as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1, until March 1968. For his service in the latter capacity, he was awarded a second Legion of Merit. He was promoted to major general in November 1966.

Vietnam War

Ordered to the Republic of Vietnam, MajGen Davis served briefly as Deputy Commanding General, Provisional Corps, then became Commanding General, 3rd Marine Division. When he took command of the division, he ordered Marine units to move out of their combat bases and engage the enemy. He had noted that the manning of the bases and the defensive posture they had developed was contrary to their normally aggressive style of fighting. As part of this change in tactics he would order Operation Dewey Canyon in early 1969 to engage the NVA in the A Shau Valley. Of note during this battle is that Davis' son Miles, a platoon commander with K/3/9, was wounded in action. [cite web |url=http://www.1stbattalion9thmarinesfirebase.net/documents/Story%20-%20Operation%20Dewey%20Canyon.pdf
title= Operation Dewey Canyon
first=C. Douglas
publisher=Wesley Fox
(PDF file, posted on the Official website of the 1st Battalion 9th Marines Network, Inc.)
] For his service as Commanding General of the 3rd Marine Division from May 22, 1968 until April 14, 1969, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, and three personal decorations by the Vietnamese Government.


Upon his return to the United States in May 1969, he was assigned duty as Deputy for Education with additional duty as Director, Education Center, Marine Corps Development and Education Command, Quantico, Virginia. After his promotion to lieutenant general on July 1, 1970, he was reassigned duty as Commanding General, Marine Corps Development and Education Command.

On February 23, 1971, President Richard M. Nixon nominated LtGen Davis for appointment to the grade of general and assignment to the position of Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. His nomination was confirmed by the Senate and he received his fourth star on assuming those duties, March 12, 1971. He served as Assistant Commandant until he retired from active duty on March 31, 1972, after more than 33 years with the Marine Corps.

Awards and decorations

General Davis' decorations include:

For his service as Deputy for Education and subsequently as Commanding General, Marine Corps Development and Education Command, Quantico, Virginia, during the period May 1969 to March 1971, and as Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, from March 1971 to March 1972, he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Service Medal.

Medal of Honor citation

Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps commanding officer, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.). Place and date: Vicinity Hagaru-ri, Korea, 1 through December 4, 1950. Entered service at: Atlanta, Ga. Born: January 13, 1915, Fitzgerald, Ga.


:For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, in action against enemy aggressor forces. Although keenly aware that the operation involved breaking through a surrounding enemy and advancing 8 miles along primitive icy trails in the bitter cold with every passage disputed by a savage and determined foe, Lt. Col. Davis boldly led his battalion into the attack in a daring attempt to relieve a beleaguered rifle company and to seize, hold, and defend a vital mountain pass controlling the only route available for 2 marine regiments in danger of being cut off by numerically superior hostile forces during their re-deployment to the port of Hungnam. When the battalion immediately encountered strong opposition from entrenched enemy forces commanding high ground in the path of the advance, he promptly spearheaded his unit in a fierce attack up the steep, ice-covered slopes in the face of withering fire and, personally leading the assault groups in a hand-to-hand encounter, drove the hostile troops from their positions, rested his men, and reconnoitered the area under enemy fire to determine the best route for continuing the mission. Always in the thick of the fighting Lt. Col. Davis led his battalion over 3 successive ridges in the deep snow in continuous attacks against the enemy and, constantly inspiring and encouraging his men throughout the night, brought his unit to a point within 1,500 yards of the surrounded rifle company by daybreak. Although knocked to the ground when a shell fragment struck his helmet and 2 bullets pierced his clothing, he arose and fought his way forward at the head of his men until he reached the isolated marines. On the following morning, he bravely led his battalion in securing the vital mountain pass from a strongly entrenched and numerically superior hostile force, carrying all his wounded with him, including 22 litter cases and numerous ambulatory patients. Despite repeated savage and heavy assaults by the enemy, he stubbornly held the vital terrain until the 2 regiments of the division had deployed through the pass and, on the morning of December 4, led his battalion into Hagaru-ri intact. By his superb leadership, outstanding courage, and brilliant tactical ability, Lt. Col. Davis was directly instrumental in saving the beleaguered rifle company from complete annihilation and enabled the 2 marine regiments to escape possible destruction. His valiant devotion to duty and unyielding fighting spirit in the face of almost insurmountable odds enhance and sustain the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Navy Cross citation


:The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Raymond Gilbert Davis (0-5831), Major, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism as Commanding Officer of the First Battalion, First Marines, FIRST Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Peleliu, Palau Islands from 15 to September 22, 1944. Although wounded during the first hour of landing, Major Davis refused evacuation to remain with his Battalion's assault elements in many hazardous missions. On one occasion, when large gaps occurred in our front lines as the result of heavy casualties, and his right flank company was disorganized by point-blank enemy cannon fire following a successful nine hundred yard penetration through heavily defended lines, he rallied and personally led combined troops into these gaps to establish contact and maintain hasty defensive positions for the remainder of the night. Despite many casualties from close-range sniper fire, he remained in the vicinity of the front lines, coordinating artillery and Naval gunfire support with such effect that several determined counterattacks were repulsed. His outstanding courage, devotion to duty and leadership were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.


General Davis died of a heart attack at the age of 88 on September 3, 2003. Interment was at Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens in College Park, Georgia. As a measure of the esteem and honor in which he was and is held by the Marine Corps, his Funeral Detail and Honor Guard was commanded by the then-Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Michael W. Hagee.

Honors and awards

In 2003, General Davis was awarded the James A. Van Fleet Award by The Korea Society.

In 2006, General Ray Davis Middle School opened near his former home in Conyers, Georgia.

The building that Houses the Marine Corps Combat Development Command on Marine Corps Base Quantico is named the General Raymond Davis building.

ee also

*List of Medal of Honor recipients
*List of Korean War Medal of Honor recipients
*List of Korean War veterans who are recipients of the Bronze Star




*cite book
last = Fehrenbach
first = T.R.
coauthors =
year = 1963
title = This Kind of War
publisher = Brassey's
location = Dulles, Virginia
id = ISBN 1-57488-259-7

*cite book
last = Russ
first = Martin
coauthors =
year = 1999
title = Breakout” – The Chosin Reservoir Campaign, Korea, 1950.
publisher = Penguin Books
location =
id = ISBN 0-14029-259-4


*cite news
title=Gen. Raymond Davis dies of heart attack at 88
author=Aimee A. Jones
work=Rockdale Citizen
date=September 2003

*cite web
title=Official Marine Corps for Raymond G. Davis
month=April | year=1972
publisher=Headquarters Marine Corps, United States Marine Corps

*cite web
title=LtCol. Raymond G. Davis, Medal of Honor, 1950, 1/7/1, Korea (Medal of Honor citation)
work=Marines Awarded the Medal of Honor
publisher=History Division, United States Marine Corps

External links

*cite web
title=General Davis:Biography
publisher=Georgia Tech

Further reading

* [http://www.whistle.gatech.edu/archives/03/jun/02/davis.html "Saluting a Hero" (General Ray Davis)] , "The Whistle:Faculty/Staff News", Georgia Institute of Technology, June 2, 2003. (URC accessed May 14, 2006)
* [http://www.medalofhonor.com/RaymondDavisTribute.htm Tribute to General Raymond G. Davis, USMC]

NAME= Davis, Ray
SHORT DESCRIPTION= United States Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient

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