One of the first Black officers to lead a Special Forces team in combat will receive the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for bravery on the battlefield, nearly 60 years after he distinguished himself during the Vietnam War.
President Joe Biden telephoned retired Army Col. Paris Davis on Monday “to inform him that he will receive the Medal of Honor for his remarkable heroism during the Vietnam War.”
The White House also said Biden told Davis that he looks forward to hosting him at the White House. A date for the medal ceremony was not immediately announced.
Davis was recommended for the Medal of Honor after he distinguished himself on June 18, 1965, during a pre-dawn raid on a North Vietnamese army camp in Bong Son. A major enemy counterattack followed and wounded every American there.
Davis, who retired as a colonel in 1985, repeatedly sprinted into an open rice paddy to rescue each member of his team, using his pinkie finger to fire his rifle after an enemy grenade shattered his hand, according to the Army Times. His entire team survived the battle.
The paperwork recommending Davis, who is now in his early 80s, for the Medal of Honor disappeared at least twice, the paper reported. He eventually was awarded a Silver Star Medal, the third-highest military combat medal, but members of Davis’ team have long argued that race was a factor in how his recommendation was handled.
In early 2021, Christopher Miller, then the acting defense secretary, ordered an expedited review of the case. He argued in an opinion column in June 2021 that awarding Davis the Medal of Honor to would address an injustice.
“Some issues in our nation rise above partisanship,” Miller wrote. “The Davis case meets that standard.”