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Veterans remember late general

By Ed Brock

In a video the late Marine Gen. Raymond Davis tells a class of college students about taking a group of men through the freezing mountains of northern Korea to rescue another company of Marines during the Battle of Chosin Basin.

"No one complained because they were going to save other Marines," said Davis on the tape.

That was when he learned about the "one for all" spirit of the military, Davis said on the tape that was shown to another group of Clayton College and State University students and faculty on Thursday. Davis, who died at the age of 88 on Sept. 3, was to be the class's guest speaker. Professor Susan Henry instead invited a panel of seven other Korean War veterans to speak in memory of Davis.

One member of the panel, 73-year-old Andrew B. Jackson of Green Cove Springs, Fla., served with Davis at Chosin.

"He was quite a man. He was the only ranking officer I knew who associated with privates," Jackson said. "He embraced his men."

Among the stories Jackson told the crowd was the time he was part of a convoy that had to go for supplies, including ammunition, after the rest of Davis' troops had set up base in Chosin. But when the convoy tried to return to their comrades they found that Chinese soldiers had surrounded the basin.

The battle of Chosin Basin occurred early in the war and was one of the bloodiest battles as outnumbered Marines faced Chinese troops who stormed over the border on Nov. 27, 1950.

Determined to get the supplies back to the front, Jackson and the others hitched a ride on a Greek cargo plane. Having nowhere to land, the Greek pilots flew low to the ground and opened the plane's rear cargo door.

"When he came up to a hill he sent the plane straight up," Jackson said.

Jackson, the other troops in the convoy, and all of the supplies fell out onto the snow that cushioned their fall like "a big piece of Styrofoam."

"So we got that ammunition to the basin," Jackson said.

Also, Jackson served as a forward observer under Davis who was then a lieutenant colonel. His job was to direct tank fire, but in order to confuse Chinese soldiers who they knew could tap the Americans' communications Davis and Jackson came up with a code.

Saying "I need two Indians" meant to aim higher by two degrees, Jackson said, while asking for two squaws meant to aim two degrees lower. "Teepee" and "papoose" stood for left and right.

"I was dropping those rounds right in front of Ray Davis and his troops as they spearheaded through the Chinese," Jackson said.

Another member of the panel, 71-year-old Jim Kemp of Jonesboro, said he didn't meet Davis until after the war.

"He was a hero as were all of the guys here who were in the Chosin Basin," said Kemp who served in the war after the battle at Chosin.

The other members of the panel were Ronald Marbaugh of Conyers, William Hall of Atlanta, Norman Sabel of Stone Mountain, Dewey Norton of Marietta and Alvin Landers of Warner Robins.

College President Thomas Harden said Davis "enhanced the campus" with his frequent speaking engagements. Harden also presented Davis' son, Gil, and son-in-law, Dr. Wayne Kerr, with the book "Korean Combat Ground Campaigns" by Mason R. Schaefer that was produced by U.S. Army Forces Command.

"I was really impressed by the members of the panel," Gil Davis said. "If you listen to them, what they did had more to do with the essence of leadership than anything else."

Students like Andr? Rall of South Africa were also impressed by the panel's stories.

"I just came to get insight on how these people lived their past and what actually went on," Rall said.

"I really enjoyed the story about the snow and the airplanes," said Natalie Hall of Forest Park.

Davis was awarded the Navy Cross and the Purple Heart in 1944. He received the Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman, two Silver Stars, a Legion of Merit with Combat V and the Bronze Star in Korea in 1950.

Fifteen years later, Davis was awarded a second Legion of Merit and then, in 1968, the Republic of Vietnam awarded him the Distinguished Service Medal and three personal decorations from the Vietnamese government.

Davis was promoted to general in 1971 and retired the following year from the Marine Corps after more than 33 years of active duty. He was then awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Service Medal.

Earlier this year, Davis received the Korea Society Van Fleet Award in recognition of the work he had done on behalf of the Korean people. In May, he was nominated by Sen. Zell Miller and Rep. John Linder for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award recognizing exceptional meritorious service.