Major George Andrew Davis , Jr.
Medal of Honor
|GEORGE A. DAVIS
MEDAL OF HONOR ACE
by Bill Hess
Following a long, relatively uneventful Summer of 1944, the 348th Fighter Group had finally gotten back into the swing of real action with the American invasion of the Philippine Islands. Their Thunderbolts began to arrive in late November and the 342nd Fighter Squadron moved into Tacloban, Leyte, on December lst and on over to Tanauan on the 16th of December. At this time, the 342nd began to fly top cover missions supporting the invasion of the island of Mindoro.
Twelve P--47s from the 342nd Squadron took off at 1000 hours for a patrol mission over Mindoro. At about 1130 two flights of Japanese Zekes were sighted up high and behind. The Thunderbolts broke and turned into two flights of four making a pass. Major Walter Benz, Squadron CO, followed one of the Japanese fighters down, hit it with a good burst and sent it crashing into the ground.
Lt George A. Davis, Jr., sighted another Zeke as the P-47s pulled up and fired three bursts at it using about twenty degrees deflection. He attained solid hits in the cockpit area and the Zeke crashed into the water.
Davis then made a pass on two more Zekes from dead astern,but as he came into firing range he was attacked in a head-on pass with the enemy pilot scoring hits in his engine and propeller. One bullet went into the wing and blew out the tire and oxygen cylinder. Davis broke away and saw Major Benz under attack from a Zeke but could not see to fire due to
oil that was all over his canopy. He stuck with his leader, who chased the Zeke a short distance and shot it down in flames.
Although he was disgusted that he had lost his chance at another sure victory when the head-on pass came, Davis was still elated in that he had finally scored his fifth victory after having flown hundreds of combat hours in the sixteen months that he had been flying combat in the Southwest Pacific.
George A. Davis, Jr., was born in the small town of Dublin, Texas on December 1, 1920. He grew up in the West Texas area and joined the U.S. Army Air Forces in Lubbock, Texas on March 21, 1942. He was appointed an aviation cadet on June 3, 1942 and began his training at Kelly Field, Texas in August 1942. First came primary flying school at Jones Field, Texas, basic at Waco, Texas and advanced at Aloe Field, Texas. He received his wings and commission as a 2nd lieutenant on February 16, 1943.
For several months he flew P-40s with the 312th Fighter Group before departing for the Southwest Pacific on August 14, 1943. There he joined the 342nd Fighter Squadron, 348th Fighter Group, flying P-47 Thunderbolts. There was nothing about the quiet, lean Texan's debut into combat that was noteworthy, but he became part of the team and put in a lot of flying hours over the New Guinea area.
Davis scored his first victory on December 31, 1943, during a patrol mission over Cape Gloucester. Sixteen Thunderbolts were on routine patrol when they were called to intercept enemy aircraft. As they arrived over their target area at 14,000 feet, Davis sighted three Val dive-bombers pulling up from their dive. There was one Zeke fighter with them but there was no time to worry about him.
Davis swiftly latched onto the six o'clock of one of the Vals and opened fire from about 300 yards. As the P-47 pilot pulled up he saw the Val go into the water in flames. Davis only got one other shot, a ninety-degree deflection chance, but missed. This Val made it into the clouds and was gone.
A B-24 escort mission on February 3, 1944, was the next scoring opportunity for Davis. The target was Wewak and, as the escorting fighters approached at 22,000 feet, three or four enemy fighters dove down in an attempt to break through to the bombers. Davis sighted a Tony firing at a Thunderbolt and pulled up to get on his tail. He broke away and down with the P-47 in pursuit. At about 10,000 feet Davis got in range and hit the in-line engined fighter with a long burst. Heavy smoke came up from the engine. Davis lost sight in recovering from his dive but the demise of the Tony was witnessed by two others in his flight. There would be no further scoring opportunities for Davis until the return to the Philippines. On December 10, 1944, Davis led a flight on patrol over Leyte which was jumped by a flight of Tony fighters. The enemy made fleeting passes rather than determined ones and Davis was not able to get enough deflection on one of them to fire. Then he saw two of the Tonys headed back for Negros Island
It took about five minutes to catch them, but apparently they thought they were home free. Davis came up behind them as they began to climb from down below. A long burst from only about seventy-five yards hit his victim which blew up. The second Tony headed for some clouds but Davis was right on his rear and firing until the enemy went into the clouds. Davis pulled up and circled and as he started for home he saw the pilot of the Tony descending in his parachute.
Davis did his final scoring of World War II on Christmas eve on an escort mission for B-24s striking Clark Field on Luzon. As the bombers neared the target two Zeke fighters were sighted about 1,000 feet over the bombers dropping aerial burst bombs. Davis and his wingman took off after them. Davis's wingman managed to hit one of the fighters and the pilot bailed out
Another Zeke was sighted attempting to attack a P-47 . As Davis opened fire the Zeke turned into him as the Thunderbolt pilot hit him with about three bursts. The Zeke burst into flames and went down northwest of Clark Field.
The P-47s went back to the bombers and, as they approached, Davis saw one Zeke maneuvering toward the B-24s in an attempt to make a pass Davis went after him immediately and caught him from astern before he could attack. Firing from about 200 yards, the concentrated firepower of the .50-calibers took effect as pieces began to fly off the plane and then flames broke out. The Zeke went spinning down to its destruction.
When Davis fnished his combat tour in March 1945 he had completed 266 combat missions for a total of 705 combat hours. He had destroyed seven enemy aircraft in the air and been awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Air Medal with eight Oak Leaf Clusters
Davis served in several various assignments before he went to P-80 jet training in 1947. He flew with the lst Fighter Group and later at Griffis AFB, New York and Greater Pittsburg Airport before he departed the United States for duty in the Far East on October 16,1951. He was assigned as a pilot with Headquarters, 4th Fighter-Interceptor Group, from October 23, 1951 until November 9, 1951. At that time he was assigned as squadron commander of the 334th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron.
This time there would not be an elongated combat career. George Davis's combat career over Korea was marked by aggressive air action to the nth degree. When the enemy appeared, Davis was determined to destroy him.
Davis had his first close encounter with a MiG-15 on November 4, 1951, when he damaged one of the craft over Anju. However, the next encounter would be an outstanding one. Davis was leading a formation of thirty-two F-86Es on a counter air mission on November 27th when he sighted six MiG-15s headed southward above his group. He immediately maneuvered his formation into postion for attack. Davis closed to 800 feet on a MiG-15 over Namsi and began to fire. The MiG began to burn and the pilot punched out.
Continuing his attack on the MiGs, Davis fired on another enemy aircraft which resulted in numerous strikes on the wing roots and fuselage. As he broke off his attack, another MiG-15 closed in to attack. Swiftly positioning himself in an attack mode, Davis began firing on the enemy and after a sustained barrage the enemy pilot bailed out.
Although low on fuel, Davis rejoined his group and reorganized his Sabres for further attacks on the enemy. Attacking into a massive formation of some 80 enemy MiG-15s, Davis' men destroyed two MiG-15s, probably destroyed another and damaged one more.
November 30th brought about a real donnybrook. Major Davis was leading a formation of eight F-86s on a combat patrol in the Sinuiju-Yalu River area where a formation of some twelve Tu-2 conventional-type bombers escorted by large numbers of La-9 propeller-driven fighters and MiG-15 jets. Davis immediately positioned his Sabres for the attack.
Davis led his formation on the initial pass on the bombers getting strikes on a number of them. As he maneuvered for the second pass, Davis found that his wingman was no longer with him, but disregarding the impending danger he struck again. Despite the intense fire from the bombers he pressed home four more attacks on the enemy and destroyed three of them.
Now low on ammuniiton and fuel, Davis headed for home. Enroute he heard a distress call from the element leader of his flight. Disregarding his fuel state, Davis did a 180 and proceeded to find the pilot. On arrival he found the F-86 damaged and a number of MiG-15s closing for the kill. Davis drove headlong into the fight, destroying one MiG-15 and sending the rest scurrying. He then led his charge home. His four victories made Davis the fifth ace of the Korean War.
Davis was leading a squadron of ten Sabres on a counter air mission on December 5, 1951, when approximately eighty MiG-15s were sighted headed south to attack American fighter-bombers. To keep complete cover over the area Davis left most of his F-86s in place while he and his wingman took off to encounter two MiG-15s headed for some fighter bombers below. Closing rapidly, Davis opened fire and flamed the MiG, forcing the pilot to punch out. Although low on fuel now, he spied another F-86 under attack and went to the rescue instantly. Once more his fire was intense and accurate. The pilot ejected.
December 13, 1951, was one of the greatest days in the history of the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing in Korea. Fifteen MiG-15s fell to their guns, four of them to Major George Davis. One mission was in the Sinanju-Anju area where Davis was leading a squadron of eight F-86s when they came upon ten MiG-15s. The Sabres struck swiftly and when the fight was over five MiG-15s were down with another probably destroyed . Two of them fell to the guns of Major George Davis.
Another mission of the day saw Davis lead twenty-two F-86s into a formation of fifty MiG-15s. The Sabre drivers broke up their formation and dominated the fight, causing the enemy pilots to retreat beyond the Yalu River. Once more Davis chalked up another twin victory.
Regretfully, February 10, 1952, would be George Davis' last fight. While leading a flight of four F-86s up near the Manchurian border, Davis'element leader ran out of oxygen and was formed to leave the formation, taking his wingman with him. This left Davis and his wingman to continue the mission. Soon they sighted a dozen MiG-15s headed southwards towards an area where American fighter-bombers were hard at work.
Major Davis and his wingman attacked the enemy in a dive. Davis singled out one MiG, hit it with a good concentration of fire and destroyed it. There were now a number of MiGs maneuvering on Davis' rear but he continued his attack. He closed on another MiG, hit it and flamed it.
Instead of increasing his speed to evade the MiGs that were closing on his rear, Davis chose to latch onto a third MiG. During this attack Davis was hit and went down out of control, then crashed into a mountain thirty miles south of the Yalu River. For his last determined and gallant feat, Davis was awarded the Medal of Honor.
In less than three months Major George A. Davis, Jr., had run up a score of fourteen enemy aircraft destroyed . In the course of six outstanding missions he had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars and two Distinguished Flying Crosses to accompany his nation's highest award, the Medal of Honor.
Perhaps a letter to the author from Colonel Bill Whisner, another two-war ace, tells a bit more about the type of men Davis and another very distinguished fighter ace, Major George Preddy, who died in World War II, were.
"One Sunday, I watched George Davis (about five miles ahead of me) with a four-ship formation, drive head-on into over thirty MiG-15s. He and his flight were run out of this occasion- but they lost no one. Such disdain of the enemy must have created respect and admiration, if not fear in the minds of those MiG pilots.
"Such fearlessness on the part of Davis later cost him his life. He and George Preddy were two of a kind. Each had complete confidence in his own ability, absolutely no fear, and a deep hatred of the enemy. I've known no other fighter pilots who could compare with either of them as an effective fighting machine. Each of them needed one quality to be perfect as a fighter pilot- a little more regard for their own life."
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