SFC Davis Speaks at East Georgia State College
Sergeant First Class Sammy L. Davis, nicknamed The Real Forrest Gump, a Medal of Honor recipient was an honored guest at East Georgia State College on Tuesday, November 13th, at 11 a.m. in the auditorium of the Luck Flanders Gambrell Center. The presentation was sponsored by the Vision Series, a privately funded initiative that seeks to bring programs of cultural and intellectual enrichment to East Georgia State College and its constituency.
Born November 1, 1946, in Dayton, Ohio, Sammy Lee Davis is a retired United States Army soldier and a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his conduct in the Vietnam War. Raised in French Camp, California, his family had a long tradition of military service; his grandfather served in the Spanish-American War, his father Robert Davis was in World War II, and his brothers Hubert (“Buddy”) and Darrell Davis served in Korea and Vietnam, respectively.
Sammy was a member of the football and diving teams at Manteca High School, as well the Boy Scouts of America and Sea Scouting. His junior year in high school, Davis’ family moved to Indiana.
Davis joined the Army from Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1965. By November 18th, 1967, he was serving as a private first class with Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 4th Artillery Regiment, 9th Infantry Division, in the Republic of Vietnam.
Davis' dramatic presentation was the story of that day, November 18th, as his unit was west of Cai Lay when they fell under heavy mortar attack in the early morning hours by 1500 soldiers of the North Vietnamese Army. Upon detecting an enemy position, Davis told of manning a machine gun to give his comrades cover fire so they could fire artillery in response. Davis was wounded, but ignored warnings to take cover, taking over the unit’s burning howitzer and firing several shells himself. Davis used an air mattress and crossed a river to help rescue three wounded American soldiers. He ultimately found his way to another howitzer site to continue fighting the enemy until they fled.
He was subsequently promoted to sergeant and received the Medal of Honor the following year. He stated that the medal belongs to the other 11 men that lived through that night. He said his name may be on the medal, but it belongs to them.
Davis' story included how he stays in touch with the men who made it out . Emotional reunions have kept the men close as they have grown older. Davis, introduced each person into his story by their full name and hometown. 18 and 19 year old young men who were "just doing their jobs" according to Davis. The audience in the Gambrell center was totally engaged in his story, evidenced by the number of faculty, staff, community members and students that wanted to just shake his hand following the event.
Davis was forced to retire in 1984 due to his injuries. Footage of his Medal of Honor award ceremony was used in the 1994 film, Forrest Gump, with actor Tom Hanks’ head superimposed over that of Davis. Davis currently lives near Freedom, Indiana with his delightful wife, Dixie. Davis says he loves her just as much as Forrest loved Jenny.