Friday, February 10, 2012

TFH 2/10: Lieutenant Colonel George A. Davis, Jr., USAF

George Andrew Davis, Jr. was born on December 1, 1920 in Dublin, TX. He first gave his service to our Nation and the cause of liberty during World War II in the US Army Air Corps, flying Republic P-47 Thunderbolts. He shot down seven Japanese enemy aircraft and earned a reputation as a "daredevil" pilot, in contrast to his reserved personality.

He transitioned from the Army to the United States Air Force when it was established as a separate branch in 1947. When war came again in Korea, he flew the North American F-86 Sabre, and was placed in command of the 334th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron. All told during the Korean War, he was credited with no fewer than eight enemy aircraft destroyed.

Sixty years ago today, he led a flight of Sabres near the border with Communist China. His superb airmanship, tenacity, and courage in battle cost him his life that day, but also resulted in him being decorated with our Nation's highest honor.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Korean War:


Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Air Force, CO, 334th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Group, 5th Air Force. Place and date: Near Sinuiju-Yalu River area, Korea, 10 February 1952. Entered service at: Lubbock, Tex. Born: 1 December 1920, Dublin, Tex. Citation: Maj. Davis distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. While leading a flight of 4 F-86 Saberjets on a combat aerial patrol mission near the Manchurian border, Maj. Davis' element leader ran out of oxygen and was forced to retire from the flight with his wingman accompanying him. Maj. Davis and the remaining F-86's continued the mission and sighted a formation of approximately 12 enemy MIG-15 aircraft speeding southward toward an area where friendly fighter-bombers were conducting low level operations against the Communist lines of communications. With selfless disregard for the numerical superiority of the enemy, Maj. Davis positioned his 2 aircraft, then dove at the MIG formation. While speeding through the formation from the rear he singled out a MIG-15 and destroyed it with a concentrated burst of fire. Although he was now under continuous fire from the enemy fighters to his rear, Maj. Davis sustained his attack. He fired at another MIG-15 which, bursting into smoke and flames, went into a vertical dive. Rather than maintain his superior speed and evade the enemy fire being concentrated on him, he elected to reduce his speed and sought out still a third MIG-15. During this latest attack his aircraft sustained a direct hit, went out of control, then crashed into a mountain 30 miles south of the Yalu River. Maj. Davis' bold attack completely disrupted the enemy formation, permitting the friendly fighter-bombers to successfully complete their interdiction mission. Maj. Davis, by his indomitable fighting spirit, heroic aggressiveness, and superb courage in engaging the enemy against formidable odds exemplified valor at its highest. 

He was posthumously promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on April 15, 1953 concurrent with his wife and family receiving his Medal of Honor. Davis' body was never recovered. He is honored with a cenotaph at the city cemetery of Lubbock, TX.

Davis was highly decorated for his military exploits. He also received the second highest award for courage, the Distinguished Service Cross, in Korea. His Distinguished Service Cross citation for the action on November 27, 1951 follows:

The President of the United States of America, under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Major George Andrew Davis, Jr. (AFSN: 0-671514/13035A), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Squadron Commander, 334th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, FIFTH Air Force, on 27 November 1951, during an engagement with enemy aircraft near Sinanju, Korea. While leading a group formation of thirty-two F-86 aircraft on a counter air mission, Major Davis observed six MIG-15 aircraft headed southward above the group. With exemplary leadership and superior airmanship, he maneuvered his forces into position for attack. Leading with great tactical skill and courage, Major Davis closed to 800 feet on a MIG-15 over Namsi. He fired on the enemy aircraft, which immediately began burning. A few seconds later, the enemy pilot bailed out of his aircraft. Continuing the attack on the enemy forces, Major Davis fired on the wingman of the enemy flight, which resulted in numerous strikes on the wing roots and the fuselage. As Major Davis broke off his relentless attack on this MIG-15, another MIG-15 came down on him. He immediately brought his aircraft into firing position upon the enemy and after a sustained barrage of fire, the enemy pilot bailed out. Although low on fuel, he rejoined his group and reorganized his forces to engage the approximate 80 enemy aircraft making the attack. Against overwhelming odds, Major Davis' group destroyed two other MIG-15 aircraft, probably destroyed one and damaged one other. Major Davis' aggressive leadership, his flying skill and devotion to duty contributed invaluable to the United Nations' cause and reflect great credit on himself, the Far East Air forces and the United States Air Force.

He also received three Silver Star medals (1 World War II, 2 Korea) and three Distinguished Flying Crosses (2 World War II, 1 Korea).

His Korean War squadron, today known as the 334th Fighter Squadron, flies in defense of America as part of the 4th Operations Group, 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, SC. They are currently equipped with the McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle.

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