Retired United States Army officer Paris Davis, born on May 13th, 1939, was awarded the Medal of Honor on March 3rd, 2023, for his actions during the Vietnam War on July 18th, 1965. Even though he was previously nominated twice for the Medal of Honor, the paperwork relating to his nominations disappeared both times. Despite this, Davis was awarded the Silver Star while he was still a captain with the 5th Special Forces Group, before he later commanded the 10th Special Forces Group. He studied political science at Southern University on a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps scholarship.
Davis became a Reserve Component officer on June 1st, 1959. He received Airborne and Ranger qualifications in 1960, and Special Forces qualification in 1962. He went overseas to South Korea, South Vietnam, and Okinawa, Japan.
In April of 1965, Davis arrived in South Vietnam for his second tour and took command of 5th Special Forces Group A-team A-321 at Camp Bồng Sơn. On June 18th, 1965, Davis and three of his Special Forces team led the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) 883rd Regional Forces Company in an attack on a Viet Cong (VC) base.
Raid on a Viet Cong Regimental Headquarters
Davis described the situation, saying that after finishing a successful raid on a Viet Cong Regimental Headquarters, killing around 100 of the enemy, the raid began shortly after midnight. Four Americans and the 883rd Vietnamese Regional Force Company participated in the raid. After the raid was completed, the first platoon of the 883rd Company broke and began to run, at about the same time Davis gave the signal to pull in the security guarding the river bank. Davis then went after the lead platoon, while MSG Billy Waugh was with the second platoon, SSG David Morgan was with the third platoon, and SP-1 Brown was with the fourth platoon.
It was just beginning to get light (dawn) when Davis caught up to the first platoon and got them organized, but they were soon hit by automatic machine gun fire. It was up front, and the main body of the platoon was hit by the machine gun. Davis was hit in the hand by a fragment from a hand grenade. About the time he started moving the platoon back to the main body, he heard firing and saw a wounded friendly VN soldier running from the direction of the firing. The soldier told him that the remainder of the 883rd Company was under attack. Davis moved the platoon he had back towards the main body, and when he reached the company, the enemy had it pinned down in an open field with automatic weapons and mortar fire.
He immediately ordered the platoon he had to return the fire, but they did not, only a few men fired. Davis began firing at the enemy, moving up and down the line, encouraging the 883rd Company to return fire. They started receiving fire from the right flank, and Davis ran to where the firing was and found five Viet Cong coming over the trench line. He killed all five, then heard firing from the left flank. He ran down there and saw about six Viet Cong moving towards their position. He threw a grenade and killed four of them. His M16 jammed, so he shot one with his pistol and hit the other with his M16 again and again until he was dead.
Shot In The Foot
MSG Waugh began yelling that he had been shot in the foot, and Davis ran to the middle of the open field and tried to get him. However, the Viet Cong automatic fire was too intense, and he had to move back to safety. By this time, the other members of his team had also taken cover. They were now pinned down and unable to move forward. It was a dangerous situation, and they needed to act quickly.
With his training and experience, John knew that they had to take out the Viet Cong’s machine gun nest to advance. He quickly formulated a plan and communicated it to his team. They would provide covering fire while he would try to take out the machine gun nest with a grenade.
John quickly crawled towards the enemy position, all the while dodging bullets and keeping a low profile. When he was close enough, he threw the grenade with precision and accuracy. The explosion was loud and devastating, and the machine gun nest was destroyed.
With the enemy position neutralized, John and his team were able to advance and accomplish their mission. John’s bravery and quick thinking had saved the day, and he was hailed as a hero by his fellow soldiers. His actions in the field earned him a Bronze Star Medal for valor, one of the highest military honors awarded by the United States.