Who is Colonel Paris Davis? Joe Biden to honor veteran for his 'remarkable heroism' during Vietnam War after almost 60 years

Who is Colonel Paris Davis? Joe Biden to honor veteran for his 'remarkable heroism' during Vietnam War after almost 60 years
Retired Col Paris Davis, who retired in 1985, will receive the Medal of Honor from President Joe Biden (Screenshot from CBS; The White House/Facebook)

WASHINGTON DC: One of the first Black officers to command a Special Forces squad in action will be given the nation's highest honor for valor in battle, almost 60 years after the papers recommending him for the honor inexplicably "vanished" in 1965. President Biden will bestow the Medal of Honor on retired black Army Colonel Paris Davis for his bravery during the Vietnam War.


According to the White House, Biden called Davis, one of the first Black officers to command Green Beret forces, on Monday, February 13, to inform him of the distinction and to express gratitude for his "remarkable heroism."


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As per the White House, the medal "will be awarded following recommendations by the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of Defense. The President told Colonel Davis that he looks forward to hosting him at the White House soon for a medal presentation."



Who is Colonel Paris Davis?

Biden will honor Davis for his conduct when he was a captain at 26. During the war, braving heavy fire from North Vietnamese soldiers close to Saigon, he carried two of his gravely injured fellow service members to safety while he was injured himself. The nation's highest military medal, the Medal of Honor, was quickly proposed for him but his papers were lost at the height of the Civil Rights movement.


'We left no man behind on that battlefield'

"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 told CBS, adding, "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."

At the time, Davis chose not to leave two of his comrades behind. Billy Waugh, one of them, subsequently described how Davis "grabbed me and he (dragged) me" after he himself had been shot multiple times and was unable to move. "I only have to close my eyes to vividly recall the gallantry of this individual," he stated in 1981.


According to the ArmyTimes, Davis continuously ran into an open rice field to rescue each member of his team while firing his gun with his pinkie finger after having his hand crushed by an enemy grenade. His entire team survived. The third-highest military combat honor, the Silver Star Medal, was subsequently given to him, but Davis' team always contended that his race played a role in how he was treated, per ABC News.

'What other assumption can you make?'

Davis' comrades believed racism was at play. "What other assumption can you make?" team member Ron Deis told The New York Times in 2021, adding, "We all knew he deserved it then. He sure as hell deserves it now."


Billy Cole, his former commander, and Waugh, both recommended him for the honor. His supporters persisted, and they got in touch with former Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, who requested a quick review of the situation. In 2022, when asked if race played a role in any way, Davis said, "I don't think – I know race was a factor." 

Davis, who earned the rank of colonel, retired in 1985.

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 Who is Colonel Paris Davis? Joe Biden to honor veteran for 'remarkable heroism' during Vietnam War