Black soldier may receive overdue accolades after being overlooked for heroism fifty-five years ago

Capt. Paris Davis is one of the first Black officers in the Special Forces but his fellow soldiers say his race played a part in him not receiving the military's highest award

A Black soldier who put his life on the line for the country and his fellow soldiers may finally get the recognition he deserves.

Capt. Paris Davis was being considered for a Medal of Honor with the Army but his application was “lost” on several occasions. The retired Special Forces officer was nominated after putting his life on the line for wounded fellow soldiers during a gunfight in the Vietnam War in June 1965, per The New York Times.

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As one of the first Black officers in the Special Forces, his fellow soldiers say race played a part in Davis not receiving the military’s highest award.

Americans Honor Veterans Day
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

“What other assumption can you make?” Ron Deis, 77, told the Times. Deis was one of the youngest soldiers on Davis’ team. He, along with the others, continues to fight for Davis to receive the accolade.

“We all knew he deserved it then, he sure as hell deserves it now.”

On June 18, 1965, Davis, then 26, was the last American standing among enemy troops. But that didn’t stop the brave soldier from firing his M-16 and trying to save injured soldiers after he’d been shot multiple times. Part of his trigger finger was lost during the battle, so he had to shoot with his pinky.

Once U.S air support arrived, Davis went back to retrieve his fellow soldiers, one by one. He was shot in the leg during the rescue and “limped back out across the rice field and grabbed the sergeant,” per Task & Purpose.

Davis returned his entire team alive.

But despite his bravery, when his commander nominated him to receive the Medal of Honor he did not hear back. So he submitted it again, but the Army misplaced the nomination, again.

Despite his bravery, Davis said he never gave the nomination much thought.

“I’m not a victim of anything. The other night, I tried to write down the things I’m a victim of. I couldn’t think of a thing,” he told the Times.

“I use this term a lot: Life suddens upon you, it just suddens upon you,” said Davis. “Every day, something comes up that you don’t expect.”

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But 55 years later, former Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher C. Miller ordered the nomination be reviewed. President Biden has the final say.

After his Army career, Davis, now 81, started a Black newspaper called Metro Herald, in Alexandria, Virginia which covered the accomplishments of Black people and civil rights issues.

theGrio reached out to the Army for comment but didn’t receive a response at the time of publication.

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