Davis enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1961 and by 1966 had been promoted to sergeant. By September 6, 1967, he was serving as a platoon guide with Company B, First Battalion, Fifth Marines, First Marine Division in the Republic of Vietnam. His actions on that date earned him the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military decoration. Davis’ citation partially reads: “Elements of the Second Platoon were pinned down by a numerically superior force of attacking North Vietnamese Army Regulars.
Remnants of the platoon were located in a trench line where Sergeant Davis was directing the fire of his men in an attempt to repel the enemy attack. Disregarding the enemy hand grenades and high volume of small arms and mortar fire, Sergeant Davis moved from man to man shouting words of encouragement to each of them firing and throwing hand grenades at the onrushing enemy. When an enemy grenade landed in the trench in the midst of his men, Sergeant Davis, realizing the gravity of the situation, and in a final valiant act of complete self-sacrifice, instantly threw himself upon the grenade, absorbing with his own body the full and terrific force of the explosion.
Through his extraordinary initiative and inspiring valor in the face of almost certain death, Sergeant Davis saved his comrades from injury and possible loss of life, enabled his platoon to hold its vital position.”