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Biden Awards Vietnam Veteran Paris Davis the Medal of Honor

Paperwork was lost on his nomination more than 50 years ago

spinner image U.S. President Joe Biden awards the Medal of Honor to Ret. U.S. Army Colonel Paris Davis for his remarkable heroism during the Vietnam War, during an event in the East Room of the White House on March 3, 2023 in Washington, DC.
President Joe Biden awards the Medal of Honor to Ret. U.S. Army Colonel Paris Davis for his remarkable heroism during the Vietnam War, during an event in the East Room of the White House.
Sipa via AP Images

President Joe Biden awarded the Medal of Honor on Friday to retired Army Col. Paris Davis, 83, a Vietnam War veteran, for his valor and leadership in a 1965 battle against North Vietnamese troops.

Davis, one of the first Black men to become a Special Forces officer, was nominated by his superiors to receive the award more than 50 years ago, but the U.S. Army lost his paperwork, and his valor was overlooked.

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“The Medal of Honor, created during Lincoln’s presidency, is our country’s highest military award recognizing gallantry above and beyond the call of duty,” Biden said. “That word gallantry, it’s not much used these days, gallantry. But I can think of no better word to describe Paris.”

In 1965, then-Capt. Davis led an inexperienced South Vietnamese company against a large North Vietnamese contingent. Despite being wounded during the initial assault, Davis fought in hand-to-hand combat, gaining a tactical advantage and killing several enemy soldiers.

During the battle, Davis risked his life to save two seriously injured soldiers. Shot in the leg while rescuing the first soldier, he went back for the second and crawled 150 yards under heavy fire, sustaining multiple wounds from grenade fragments. He rescued both soldiers and directed the helicopter extraction of the wounded but refused to be evacuated himself.

Davis continued to fight, saving the lives of many soldiers until his entire company was safely evacuated. He then stayed on the battlefield to coordinate final attacks to ensure victory.

“You’re everything our nation is at our best. Brave and bighearted, determined and devoted, selfless and steadfast, American,” Biden said.

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