Special Forces Hero to Receive Belated Medal of Honor

Special Forces Hero to Receive Belated Medal of Honor

Medal of honor
Photo by: U.S. Army

Retired Col. Paris Davis, a Special Forces soldier who fought in Vietnam, will receive the Medal of Honor for his actions during the war, the White House announced.

President Joe Biden called Davis Feb. 13 to inform him of the award for his “remarkable heroism,” the White House said in a brief statement. “The President told Colonel Davis that he looks forward to hosting him at the White House soon for a medal presentation,” the White House said.

Davis is being recognized with the nation’s highest award for valor almost 60 years after his courageous actions in Vietnam.

“The call today from President Biden prompted a wave of memories of the men and women I served with in Vietnam—from the members of 5th Special Forces Group and other U.S. military units to the doctors and nurses who cared for our wounded,” Davis said in a statement. “I am so very grateful for my family and friends within the military and elsewhere who kept alive the story of A-team, A-321 at Camp Bong Son. I think often of those fateful 19 hours on June 18, 1965, and what our team did to make sure we left no man behind on that battlefield.”

On June 18, 1965, a then 26-year-old Capt. Davis was the last American standing with a company of 90 South Vietnamese volunteers, pinned down by hundreds of enemy troops, according to The New York Times.

“Certain that he was as good as dead, he began fighting without fear of consequence, pulling his M-16 trigger with his pinkie, sprinting repeatedly into open ground to rescue teammates, and refusing to leave the fight, even after being shot several times,” the Times reported in 2021.

Davis survived the battle and was immediately nominated for the Medal of Honor, according to the Times. “But the Army somehow lost the nomination. His frustrated commander resubmitted it, and inexplicably the nomination disappeared again,” the Times reported.

Over the years, Davis’ fellow soldiers would push for him to be properly recognized, without any results. They eventually came to believe Davis was being overlooked because he was one of the first Black officers in Special Forces, according to the New York Times.

In January 2021, then-acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, a Special Forces veteran who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, ordered an expedited review of Davis’ nomination. The Medal of Honor for Davis is being awarded following recommendations by the Army secretary and defense secretary, the White House said. In his statement, Davis thanked “the volunteer team that advocated for us through the years.”

In an earlier interview with CBS News, Davis said soldiers forget color when under attack. “When you’re out there fighting, and things are going on like that, everybody’s your friend, and you’re everybody’s friend ... the bullets have no color, no names.”