A SURPRISING HERO – Lieutenant Colonel George Andrew Davis, Jr., U.S. Air Force, WW II, Korean War, Medal of Honor (1920-1952)

Lt. Col. George A. Davis, Jr., Medal of Honor, highly decorated flying ace, US Air Force
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Lt. Col. George A. Davis, Jr., Medal of Honor, highly decorated flying ace, US Air Force

BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D.   Davis joined the US Army Air Corps in early 1942, and after training was sent to the Pacific Theatre during the war. There, Davis flew in the New Guinea Campaign and the Philippines Campaign, scoring seven victories over Japanese aircraft. He quickly gained a reputation as a skilled pilot and accurate gunner whose “daredevil” flying style contrasted with his reserved personality.

Lieutenant Colonel George Andrew Davis, Jr.  was a highly decorated flying ace of the United States (US) Army in World War II, and later of the US Air Force during the Korean War. Davis rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in “MiG Alley” during the war. He was the only flying ace of the United States to be killed in action in Korea.


George Andrew Davis, Jr. was born on December 1, 1920, in Dublin, Texas, to Pearl and George Davis Sr.  Graduating from Morton High School in Morton, Texas, he went to Harding College in Searcy, Arkansas.  Davis joined the Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet in March of, 1942, in Lubbock, Texas. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant.  Davis completed flight training on February 16, 1943.

In August 1943, Davis was assigned to the 342 Fighter Squadron, 348 Fighter Group, Fifth Fighter Command of the Southwest Pacific as a P-47 fighter pilot. Between August 30, 1943, and March 23, 1945, Davis completed 266 combat missions with a total of 705 hours of combat flight. During these missions he shot down seven enemy aircraft. For his service in World War II, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross with an Oak Leaf Cluster, the Silver Star, and the Air Medal with eight Oak Leaf Clusters.

Davis returned to the United States near the middle of 1945. Davis completed a Student Flight Refresher Training course at Goodfellow Field, Texas and  was appointed the Base Operations Officer there from July to August 1945.  Between the end of the war and 1951, Davis was transferred five times, serving as a Jet Fighter Pilot, Flight Commander, and Air Inspector in California, Tennessee, New York, and Pennsylvania. While stationed at March Air Force Base, California, in 1950, Davis was a member of the Sabre Dancers jet demonstration team, a forerunner of the Air Force Thunderbirds, and was commended by his commanding officer, Colonel Howell Estes, for his performance in a public air show that year. He was promoted to Major in February 1951, and in October of that year he was sent to Korea. Davis was assigned to the Fourth Fighter-Interceptor Group as a Jet Fighter Pilot from October 23 to November 9, 1951. He was then assigned to the 334 Fighter-Interceptor Squadron as Squadron Commander.


Davis in the cockpit of his F-86 Sabre in Korea during his 1952 tour in the war

On February 10, 1952, Davis led a group of four F-86 jet fighters on a patrol near the Manchurian border. One of the pilots in the group ran out of oxygen and was forced to retire from the area with his wingman. Davis and his wingman continued the patrol. They soon sighted what they estimated to be 12 MIG-15 fighters which were about to attack friendly bombers conducting low-altitude operations nearby. Despite being outnumbered, Davis attacked the MIG formation and shot down two enemy planes. He turned to make another pass and was hit by hostile fire. His wingman, First Lieutenant William Littlefield, saw Davis’s plane crash into a mountain 30 miles south of the Yalu River. His body was never recovered. It was Davis’s sixtieth combat mission in Korea and the two MIGs he shot down were his thirteenth and fourteenth kills, making him the leading ace pilot at the time.

For his courageous attack, which enabled the bombers to complete their mission, Davis was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in addition to the Distinguished Service Cross, a second Silver Star, a ninth cluster for his Air Medal, and a third cluster for his Distinguished Flying Cross. His wife, Doris Forgason Davis, received the Medal of Honor from General Nathan Twining at Reese Air Force Base on May 14, 1954. Davis’s three children, Mary Margaret, George III, and Charles Lynn, his parents, and Senator Lyndon B. Johnson were also in attendance. Davis’s name is inscribed on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.


The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor


Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Air Force, CO, 334th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Group, 5th Air Force. Place and date: Near Sinuiju-Yalu River area, Korea, 10 February 1952. Entered service at: Lubbock, Tex. Born: 1 December 1920, Dublin, Tex.


"MiG Alley" North Korea

Maj. Davis distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. While leading a flight of 4 F-86 Saberjets on a combat aerial patrol mission near the Manchurian border, Maj. Davis’ element leader ran out of oxygen and was forced to retire from the flight with his wingman accompanying him. Maj. Davis and the remaining F-86’s continued the mission and sighted a formation of approximately 12 enemy MIG-15 aircraft speeding southward toward an area where friendly fighter-bombers were conducting low level operations against the Communist lines of communications. With selfless disregard for the numerical superiority of the enemy, Maj. Davis positioned his 2 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, Maj. Davis sustained his attack. He fired at another MIG-15 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 30 miles south of the Yalu River. Maj. Davis’ bold attack completely disrupted the enemy formation, permitting the friendly fighter-bombers to successfully complete their interdiction mission. Maj. Davis, by his indomitable fighting spirit, heroic aggressiveness, and superb courage in engaging the enemy against formidable odds exemplified valor at its highest