Stories of America's Greatest Heroes

Ken Harbaugh tells the stories of service members who have distinguished themselves through an act of valor. These stories feature recipients from the Civil War to present day, including a few who were originally overlooked for the medal.

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George A. Davis Jr

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Lt Col George A. Davis, Jr. served in the Army Air Corps during WWII and Korea, flying over 250 missions and becoming an ACE. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for attacking a vastly superior enemy formation during the Korean War.

Welcome to the Medal of Honor podcast, brought to you in partnership with the National Medal of Honor Museum. I’m Ken Harbaugh. In each episode, we’ll learn about a different service member who has distinguished him or herself through an act of valor.

Lieutenant Colonel George Andrew Davis, Jr. was born on December 1st, 1920 in Dublin, Texas. Davis graduated from Harding College in Arkansas and joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 as an aviation cadet. In 1943, he finished flight training and deployed to the Pacific.

There, Davis was assigned to the 342nd Fighter Squadron and flew P-47 Thunderbolts. He first encountered the enemy on December 31st, 1943, during an aerial patrol at the Battle of Cape Gloucester [Glaw - ster]. As Allied forces landed on the island of New Britain, in New Guinea, Davis received new orders to the southern part of the island, where Japanese planes were harassing the Allies’ convoy. Davis and his squadron surprised them, shooting down eight enemy aircraft and taking no casualties.

In February 1944, Davis’s squadron escorted bombers and was ambushed by Japanese fighters, but he managed to shoot down one and his squadron destroyed six more.

In December, Davis’s unit flew over the Philippines, protecting troop transports and convoys. On one mission, Davis positioned his plane so that the sun’s glare would blind the enemy pilot, allowing him to destroy two Japanese Aircraft.

On another patrol, Davis countered an ambush and destroyed his fifth plane, making him a flying ace and earning him the Silver Star. When World War II ended, Davis had flown 266 missions and destroyed seven enemy aircraft. He stayed in the military, becoming a captain in the Air Force after its creation.

In Korea, Davis flew 59 combat missions, setting many records. He destroyed the most MiGs of any jet pilot, earning him praise in the States but making him a target for Chinese and Soviet aircraft.

On February 10th, 1952, Davis flew his last mission, patrolling near the Chinese border with four F-86 Sabres. One pilot ran out of oxygen and returned to base with his wingman, leaving Davis and the other plane. Davis spotted a dozen Chinese MiG-15s heading towards an American bombing run, and moved to intercept. Davis surprised them, destroying two MiGs, before one hit his Sabre’s fuselage, causing him to lose control. Davis died in the crash, the only American ace to be killed in action during the war.

Upon news of his death, Davis’s commander, Colonel Harrison Thyng, recommended him for the Medal of Honor. In 1953, his wife, Doris, and family received the award on his behalf. He and Doris had three children, their last was born after Davis’s final flight.

The Medal of Honor podcast is a production of Evergreen Podcasts.

Declan Rohrs is our producer, León Pescador is our associate producer, Nathan Corson is our engineer, and I’m Ken Harbaugh.

We are proud to support the National Medal of Honor Museum. To learn more, and to support their mission, go to mohmuseum.org. Thanks for listening.

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