Home » Biden awards Black Vietnam vet Col. Paris Davis, 83, with Medal of Honor

Biden awards Black Vietnam vet Col. Paris Davis, 83, with Medal of Honor

by The Grio

Nearly 60 years after he was first recommended for the nation’s highest military award for his bravery during the Vietnam War, retired Col. Paris Davis, one of the first Black officers to lead a Special Forces team in combat, received the Medal of Honor on Friday.

The belated recognition for the 83-year-old Virginia resident came after the recommendation for the medal was lost, resubmitted — and then lost again.

It wasn’t until 2016 — half a century after Davis risked his life to save some of his men under fire — that advocates painstakingly recreated and resubmitted the paperwork.

President Joe Biden on Friday described Davis as a “true hero,” describing his efforts to haul injured soldiers to safety under heavy enemy fire. When one of his superiors told him to get to safety, Davis said, according to Biden: “Sir, I”m just not going to leave. I still have an American out there,” and he went back into the firefight to carry out an injured medic.

“You are everything this medal means,” Biden said to Davis. “You’re everything our nation is at our best. Brave and big hearted, determined and devoted, selfless and steadfast.”

Biden said Davis should have received the honor years ago, describing remaining segregation when he returned home and questioning why the honor took so long.

“Somehow the paperwork was never processed,” Biden said. “Not just once. But twice.”

Davis doesn’t dwell on it. He says he doesn’t know why it has taken decades.

“Right now I’m overwhelmed,” he told The Associated Press in an interview the day before he attended the White House ceremony where Biden placed the blue ribbon holding the Medal of Honor around his neck.

“When you’re fighting, you’re not thinking about this moment,” Davis said. “You’re just trying to get through that moment.”

“That moment” stretched over nearly 19 hours and two days in…

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