"Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die." -Gilbert K. Chesterton
Roy Davis had not only gone to my high school but also went to my elementary school. As children, we played on the same playground at the same time yet I never knew him. He started 4th grade when I was in 3rd grade, moving to my hometown from New York where he was born on March 21, 1947. They arrived here for his dad to teach at our local University. Roy was also nearly a neighbor, living only about three blocks away.
I met his sister Barbara after a Vietnam War Veterans Tribute. There had been a table dedicated to the local KIA. Since I had donated several of my books to be distributed, and had contributed in gathering information for that table, I'd been asked to deliver the framed pictures to the families after the event. That's how I met Barbara, pictured below.
There were just two children in the family; Roy was a year older. One of the favorite memories she has of her brother was how protective he was of her. She also remembers chasing after him when he was with his friends, but they would try to lose her.
Roy Henry Davis graduated from high school in 1966 and was drafted in 1967. His tour of duty in Vietnam began January 29, 1968, just 3 weeks after Eddy landed there. He was an SP4 in the U.S. Army, and stationed with the 402nd Transportation Company near the Saigon area, not far from where Eddy was.
Roy was on the track team in high school with Eddy, and they stood next to each other in the 1965 yearbook track team picture. Side by side that day for a school photo, who would have thought that only a few years later they both would die not far apart from each other in Vietnam.
Roy loved cars and motorcycles. He took after his dad in this way, and loved to work on them. The first thing he did when he completed this tour of duty was to buy a bright blue VW bug and put in a stereo. His family hardly saw him because he drove that VW everywhere all the time. He went up to Seattle to visit cousins and they took him up the famous Space Needle and to this day the cousins talk about how nice Roy was.
The thing about Roy is that he decided to do a second tour of duty. He was told he would get out six months early if he went again. He planned to go to the local junior college when he returned home the next time around. We can't ask him why he chose to go again, but his sister thinks it was his sense of duty. Both of their parents had been in the Navy. Their father had been on a ship and their mother had been a WAVE. Military was big on both sides of the family. So, Roy signed up for a second tour and this is despite the fact that he'd been injured during his first tour. Another thing about Roy is that when he was injured he did not let his parents know about it until he had healed, finished his tour and came home. He didn't want them to be worried.
During Roy's 2nd tour he was with the 179th Assault Support Helicopter Company. He was crew chief on aircraft #19091, a Chinook. His sister, Barbara, says his crew mates called him "grease monkey" because their helicopter was cleaner than any other, but the grease was all over Roy.
On February 24, 1969, they were in the Vietnam province of Pleiku when the Chinook was in a final approach to Firebase Tango to drop off ammunition; the aircraft was fired at by the enemy, fuel lines were severed, fire broke out and two were killed, one of which was 21 year old Roy. The others were injured but lived.
Roy was a fun-loving, kind, protective brother and son, who never got a chance to be a husband or father. But most of all Roy Henry Davis was a brave young man, and this aspect has not gone unnoticed. Fifty years later, we remember and honor Roy Davis for his courage to return to Vietnam in the face of grave danger.