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Frederic Ellis Davison
Born (1917-09-28)September 28, 1917
Died January 24, 1999 (1999-01-25) (aged 81)
Place of birth Washington, D.C.
Place of death Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1938–1974
Rank US Army O8 shoulderboard rotated.svg Major General
Commands held 199th Light Infantry Brigade
8th Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War II
Vietnam War
Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star

Frederic Ellis Davison (28 September 1917 – 24 January 1999) was the first African American United States Army Major General and division commander, who served as commander of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade during the Vietnam War.

Early life and education

Frederic Davison was born 28 September 1917 in Washington, D.C. to Sue Bright Davison and Ellis Charles Davison. He attended Dunbar High School and then Howard University here he graduated in 1938. He obtained his masters degree in 1940 in chemistry and zoology.[1][2]

Military service

He was commissioned as a Second lieutenant in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps in March 1939.[2] He was called to active duty in March 1941 first serving as a platoon leader in Company H, 3rd Battalion, 366th Infantry Regiment in the segregated 92nd Infantry Division.[2]:55

World War II

In September 1943 he took command of Company H, 366th Infantry before the 92nd Division deployed to Europe to participate in the Italian Campaign. He served in various roles in the 3/366th Infantry and ended the war commanding Company B, 1st Battalion, 371st Infantry Regiment.[1][2]:55


He returned to the US in November 1945 and was placed on inactive duty on 30 March 1946. He was recalled to active duty in August 1947 and given command of Company D, 1st Battalion, 365th Infantry Regiment. In April 1952 he deployed to West Germany to join the 370th Armored Infantry Battalion where he served as operations officer and then executive officer.[2]:55 He attended Command and General Staff College in 1954 and War College in 1962.[1]:73

Vietnam War

Col. Davison was serving as acting commander of the 199th Light Infantry Brigade based at Long Binh Post at the start of the Tet Offensive on 31 January 1968. Davison commanded his forces in the Tet Offensive attacks on Bien Hoa and Long Binh.[3] He was given command of the brigade in August 1968.[1]:73

In September 1968 he was promoted to Brigadier general, becoming only the second African American to achieve this rank.[1]:73

Post Vietnam

In April 1971 he was promoted to Major general.[1]:73

In May 1972 he was given command of the 8th Infantry Division becoming the first African American division commander. His final assignment commencing in November 1973 was as commander of the Washington Military District.[1]:73

He retired from the Army in 1974 and became executive assistant at Howard University until 1985 when he retired from that role.[1]:74

He died on 24 January 1999 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[1]:74


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Reef, Catherine (2014). African Americans in the Military. InfoBase Publishing. p. 72. ISBN 9781438107752. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Walton, Ben (2017). Great Black War Fighters: Profiles in Service Revised Edition-2017. Strategic Book Publishing & Rights Agency. p. 54. ISBN 9781946539458. 
  3. Villard, Erik (2017). United States Army in Vietnam Combat Operations Staying the Course October 1967 to September 1968. Center of Military History United States Army. p. 347. ISBN 9780160942808. 

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