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Raymond Gilbert Davis
General Ray Davis, Assistant Commandant 1971--72
Nickname Ray
Born (1915-01-13)January 13, 1915
Died September 3, 2003(2003-09-03) (aged 88)
Place of birth Fitzgerald, Georgia
Place of death Conyers, Georgia
Place of burial Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens College Park, Georgia
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch USMC logo.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1938–1972
Rank General US-O10 insignia.svg
Commands held 1st Special Weapons Battalion

1st Battalion, 1st Marines (WWII)
1st Battalion, 7th Marines (Korea)
SEATO Expeditionary Brigade, EXLIGTAS
3rd Marine Division (South Vietnam)
Marine Corps Development and Education Command

World War II

Korean War

Vietnam War
Awards Medal of Honor
Navy Cross
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Silver Star Medal (2)
Legion of Merit (2) with Combat "V"
Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V"
Purple Heart Medal
Combat Action Ribbon (3)
Vietnamese Gallantry Cross (3)
Presidential Medal of Freedom

Raymond Gilbert "Ray" Davis (January 13, 1915 – September 3, 2003) was a high ranking and highly decorated United States Marine Corps general officer who had served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Navy Cross during World War II and the Medal of Honor during the Korean War. While serving as the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, he retired with over 33 years service in the Marine Corps on March 31, 1972.

General Davis had a close association with Marine Corps legend, Chesty Puller, having served with Puller on Guadalcanal during World War II and in Korea during the Korean War. A middle school was built and named the "General Ray Davis Middle School", in 2006, in Stockbridge, Georgia where he had resided.

Early years

General 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 Institute of Technology, graduating in 1938 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering.[1] 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 Corps second lieutenant on June 27, 1938.

Marine Corps career


In May 1939, Second Lieutenant 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, Captain Davis 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 Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

Major Davis' extraordinary heroism while commanding the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines at Peleliu in September 1944 earned him the Navy Cross and Purple Heart Medal. During the first hour of the Peleliu landing he was wounded. He refused evacuation, and on one occasion, due to heavy Marine casualties and point-blank Japanese cannon fire, the Japanese broke through, he personally rallied and led his men in fighting to re-establish defensive positions. In October 1944, he returned to Pavuvu and was promoted to lieutenant colonel.


Returning to the United States in November 1944, Lieutenant Colonel 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

Lieutenant Colonel Davis in 1952

In Korea, Lt. Col. 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."[2]" During the 1st Marine Division's fight to break out of the Chosin Reservoir area in North Korea during the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir on December 1, 1950, Lt. Col. Davis led his battalion in and through fierce firefights with the Chinese army from Yudam-ni to Hagru-ri. Lt. Col. Davis led in front of his men all the way... marching his battalion at night over mountains in a driving snowstorm, he rescued and saved Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment from annihilation at the Toktong Pass. This action also opened the blocked mountain pass to Hagaru-ri allowing two trapped Marine regiments to escape and link up with the rest of the 1st division at Hagaru-ri.[3] He was recommended for the Medal of Honor. The medal was presented to Lt. Col. Davis by President Harry S. Truman in a White House ceremony on November 24, 1952.

Lt. Col. Davis was also awarded two Silver Star Medals for gallantry in action, exposing himself to heavy enemy fire while leading and encouraging his men in the face of strong enemy opposition. He received the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" for exceptionally meritorious conduct and professional skill in welding the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines into a highly effective combat team. Later, as Executive Officer of the 7th Marines, from December 1950 to June 1951, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V" for his part in rebuilding the 7th regiment in Korea after the Chosin Reservoir campaign. He returned to the United States in June 1951 and was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D.C.


Lt. Col. Davis served with Headquarters Marine Corps at the Pentagon until June 1954. Lt. Col. 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 full colonel in October 1953.

The following July, Colonel 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, Colonel Davis 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 medal. He was promoted to major general in November 1966.

Vietnam War

In March 1968, Major General Davis was sent to the Republic of Vietnam and served until May 1968 as the Deputy Commanding General of the Provisional Corps in South Vietnam. He then became Commanding General, 3rd Marine Division until April 1969. 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. During this battle, his son Miles Davis, a rifle company platoon commander in K Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, was wounded in action.[4] For his service as Commanding General of the 3rd Marine Division from May 22, 1968 until April 14, 1969, he was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. The South Vietnamese Government awarded him several decorations including three Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Crosses.


General Davis after his promotion to full general

In May 1969, Major General Davis 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 (Marine Corps Combat Development Command).

On February 23, 1971, President Richard M. Nixon nominated Lieutenant General 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 March 12, 1971. General Davis served as Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps until he retired from active duty on March 31, 1972.

Military decorations and awards

General Davis' decorations and awards include:

A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
File:Ribbon bar Officer National Order of Vietnam.gif
Bronze star
Medal of Honor
Navy Cross Navy Distinguished Service Medal w/ one gold 5/16 inch star Silver Star Medal w/ one gold 5/16 inch star Legion of Merit w/ one gold 5/16 inch star & Combat "V"
Bronze Star Medal w/ Combat "V" Purple Heart Medal Presidential Unit Citation w/ four bronze service stars Navy Unit Commendation w/ one bronze service star
American Defense Service Medal w/ Fleet Clasp American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ one silver star (5 battles)campaign star World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal w/ one bronze service star Korean Service Medal w/ four bronze service stars Vietnam Service Medal w/ three bronze service stars National Order of Vietnam, Officer
National Order of Vietnam, Knight Vietnam Army Distinguished Service Order, 2nd Class Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ three palms Vietnam Civil Actions Medal w/ palm
United Nations Service Medal Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation Vietnam Campaign 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.

Other honors

  • In 2003, General Davis was awarded the James A. Van Fleet Award by the Korea Society.
  • The building that houses the Marine Corps Combat Development Command (the Marine Corps Development and Education Command until 1987) at Marine Corps Base Quantico is named the "General Raymond Davis Building".


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. The Funeral Detail and Marine Corps Honor Guard was personally commanded by General Michael W. Hagee, the 33rd Commandant of the Marine Corps.


See also


  1. "General Davis: Biography". General Ray Davis Memorial Endowment. 
  2. Russ Breakout, p. 12.
  3. Russ Breakout, pp. 284–302.
  4. Sterner, C. Douglas (2001). "Operation Dewey Canyon" (PDF). Wesley Fox. Retrieved 2006-01-06.  (PDF file, posted on the Official website of the 1st Battalion 9th Marines Network, Inc.)



  • Fehrenbach, T.R. (1963). This Kind of War. Dulles, Virginia: Brassey's. ISBN 1-57488-259-7. 
  • Russ, Martin (1999). Breakout" – The Chosin Reservoir Campaign, Korea, 1950.. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-029259-4. 
  • Owen, Joseph R. (1996). Colder then Hell – A Marine Rifle Company at the Chosin Reservoir. Presidio Press. ISBN 978-0-8041-1697-8. 


Further reading

External links

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