Heroes of the 4th FW: Lt. Col. George Davis

  • Published
  • By Dr. Roy Heidicker
  • 4th Fighter Wing historian
This year, 2007, is the 50th anniversary of the 4th Fighter Wing being based at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

To celebrate this, we will be publishing a series of ten articles about the greatest heroes of the 4th Fighter Wing. Over the course of these articles we will see the many different faces of heroes and look at the nature of heroism.

The highest honor bestowed by the United States for courage in battle is the Congressional Medal of Honor. Of the many great heroes of the 4th Fighter Wing, only one, Lt. Col. George Davis, was awarded the Medal of Honor. For this reason, We begin this series of articles with him.

George Andrew Davis Jr. was born in Dublin, Texas, Dec. 1, 1920. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Lubbock, Texas, March 21, 1942.

In August 1943 Davis entered the Pacific arena of World War II when he was assigned to the 342nd Fighter Squadron of the 348th Fighter Group. Flying the P-47 Thunderbolt, Davis shot down two Japanese aircraft Dec. 10, 1944. Ten days later, he shot down another. On Dec. 24, 1944, Davis shot down three Japanese aircraft.

He was known for his multiple-kill days, both in World War II and the Korean War. When he left for the U.S. in March 1945, Davis had chalked up 266 combat missions and was credited with seven enemy aircraft destroyed.

When Davis became an ace again in the Korean War, he became part of a very elite group. Only seven Americans achieved the status of ace in both World War II and the Korean War.

On Nov. 10, 1951, Major Davis was assigned as the squadron commander of the 334th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in Korea. He continued his tradition of multiple-kill days that began in World War II, into the Korean War.

On Nov. 27, 1951, Davis shot down two MIGs. Nov. 30, 1951, Davis shot down two enemy aircraft in the morning and another two in the afternoon. He had been in the war less than three weeks and he was already an ace. Davis soon became the first double ace (10 kills) of the Korean War. On Feb. 10, 1952, when he went on his final, fatal mission, Major Davis led all American aces with 12 kills.

On that mission, Major Davis led a flight of four F-86 Sabrejets on a combat aerial patrol near the Manchurian border. One of the planes developed oxygen problems so it, and its wingman, returned to base. Major Davis and his wingman spotted 12 MIG-15 aircraft approaching a group of friendly fighter-bombers conducting low-level operations against the Communist lines of communications. Despite the odds, Davis and his wingman went to the aid of their comrades.

The following paragraph is taken directly from Davis's Medal of Honor Citation:

With selfless disregard for the numerical superiority of the enemy, Major Davis positioned his two 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, Major Davis sustained his attack. He fired at another MIG 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 thirty miles south of the Yalu River. Major Davis' bold attack completely disrupted the enemy formation, permitting the friendly fighter bombers to successfully complete their interdiction mission. Major Davis, by his indomitable fighting spirit, heroic aggressiveness, and superb courage in engaging the enemy against formidable odds exemplified valor at its highest.
Following his death, Davis was promoted to lieutenant colonel and awarded the Medal of Honor. His fourteen victories, scored in only three months, made him the fourth highest scoring ace of the Korean War.

Had he lived, many believe George Davis would have become the top-scoring ace of the Korean War. Davis was a classic war hero and is highly deserving of being the first in our series of articles. He was a tremendous pilot who shot down a score plus one of the enemy in two wars.

As an ace, Medal of Honor recipient, squadron commander and a hero who died protecting his comrades, Lt. Col. George Davis is one of the greatest heroes in the exalted history of the 4th Fighter Wing.