Fort Belvoir, Virginia — When President Bidenthe Medal of Honor to retired Col. Paris Davis in March, it righted a nearly six-decade-old wrong for one of the first Black officers to serve in the Army’s elite Green Berets.
Since then, Americans have taken the 84-year-old Davis into their hearts.
“I couldn’t go anywhere that someone didn’t recognize me or come over and say, ‘thanks for your service,'” Davis told CBS News.
He threw out the first pitch at a Washington Nationals game in May. He’s taken his battlefield lessons of perseverance, and courage to more than two dozen schools. And he’s also been sent handmade cards.
“Most of them were, ‘We love you, congratulations,'” Davis said.
But some still ask why Davis’ Medal of Honor paperwork — submitted to recognize his daring rescue of two severely injured soldiers during an intense battle in the Vietnam War — vanished twice at the height of the civil rights movement.
“People were really interested in finding out what the hell happened,” Davis said. “And I would always say, ‘That was then, this is now.'”
In June of 1965, Davis was leading a group of South Vietnamese forces and American soldiers on a nighttime raid when the Viet Cong staged a counterattack. After hours of fighting, Davis ignored an order to evacuate, instead making several trips to rescue injured soldiers, even after he had suffered a gunshot wound to the leg.
He was nominated for a Medal of Honor by his commanding officer, but then the paperwork vanished. A 1969 military review “did not reveal any file” on Davis.
When awarding Davis the Medal of Honor in March, Mr. Biden said, “This may be the most consequential day since I’ve been president. This is an incredible man.”
On Wednesday, a ceremony was held to unveil his name in the Medal of Honor Garden at the National Museum of the United States Army in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, as Davis secured his place in Special Forces history.
David told CBS News he would always “cherish” the honor.
“Never forget who we are and what America stands for,” Davis said. “When you do that, you make America stronger.”