David said, 'When you’re fighting, you’re not thinking about this moment. You’re just trying to get through that moment.'
After 60 years, Retired Colonel Paris Davis, who was one of the first Black officers to lead a special forces team during the Vietnam war, received the nation's highest military award, the Medal of Honor, on March 3, Friday, as reported by The Guardian. The medal took so many years because the recommendation was lost, resubmitted and lost again. It was in 2016 that advocates painstakingly recreated and resubmitted the paperwork for the medal. It was half a century after Davis put his life at risk to save some of his men.
On Friday, Biden described Davis as a "true hero" and spoke about how he helped to haul injured soldiers to safety under heavy enemy fire. Moreover, when one of his superiors asked him to get to safety, according to Biden, Davis said, "Sir, I'm just not going to leave. I still have an American out there." He returned to the firefight to bring out an injured medic.
The US President said to Davis at the White House, "You are everything this medal means.” He added, “You're everything our nation is at our best. Brave and big-hearted, determined and devoted, selfless and steadfast.” Biden also mentioned that Davis should have received the honor years ago and questioned why it took so long.
However, Davis told the Associated Press in an interview a day before he received the honor, “Right now I’m overwhelmed.” The US President placed the blue ribbon holding the Medal of Honor around his neck. David said, “When you’re fighting, you’re not thinking about this moment.” “You’re just trying to get through that moment.” He had to continue the rescue operation for about 19 hours and two days in mid-June 1965. He was then the captain and commander of the 5th Special Forces Group. He reportedly engaged in nearly continuous combat during a pre-dawn raid on a North Vietnamese army camp.
Colonel Paris Davis represents everything our nation is at our best:— President Biden (@POTUS) March 3, 2023
Brave and big-hearted.
Determined and devoted.
Selfless and steadfast.
Apparently, he was part of the hand-to-hand combat with the North Vietnamese and prevented the capture of three American soldiers. In the process, he was wounded by gunshots and grenade fragments. He used his pinkie finger to fire his rifle after his hand was injured under fire. He repeatedly moved into an open rice paddy to rescue his team members. Thanks to him, his entire team survived. “That word ‘gallantry’ is not much used these days,” Biden said. “But I can think of no better word to describe Paris.”
Davis has been inducted into the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes after receiving the award, according to defense.gov. Talking about Davis, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen H. Hicks said, "Our Medal of Honor recipient, Col. Davis, is, as President Biden so aptly remarked at Friday's Medal of Honor ceremony, an incredible man." "And I want to acknowledge that this honor is long overdue — … appropriate recognition should have come much sooner following the bravery you demonstrated and the sacrifices you made more than half a century ago to save your fellow soldiers from certain death during the Vietnam War. Everyone in this auditorium can agree that this award, which you so richly deserve, has, in fact, been a long time coming."