President Biden will award the Medal of Honor to a Black Vietnam War veteran who twice disobeyed orders to abandon his team, ultimately rescuing each member, the White House announced Wednesday.
Mr. Biden will award the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest honor, to retired Army Col. Paris D. Davis on Thursday.
In a statement announcing the honor, the White House said Mr. Davis “distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty.”
The honor comes decades after the military lost paperwork documenting his nomination for the honor.
Mr. Davis — one of the first Black officers to join the Army’s Special Forces — was wounded fighting off North Vietnamese forces during a battle in 1965. Despite his injuries, Mr. Davis continued to move forward despite orders from his superiors to abandon his team, described by the White House as an “an inexperienced South Vietnamese regional raiding force,” and regroup.
He personally engaged in hand-to-hand combat and led four others to destroy the enemy gun emplacements. Ultimately, he rescued every member of his team, according to the White House announcement.
The Army nominated Mr. Davis for the Medal of Honor in 1965 but inexplicably lost the paperwork. His commander and one of the American soldiers rescued by Davis again nominated him for the Medal of Honor, but somehow the request disappeared again.
Decades passed without Mr. Davis being honored for his heroism.
In 2021, Mr. Davis told CBS News that he believes race was a factor in delaying the honor.
In a statement, Mr. Davis thanked those who pushed for the honor.
“As I anticipate receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor, 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,” the statement said. “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.”
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at email@example.com.
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