Soldier Wilbert O. Davis, Sr. (1933-2010) was a friend and mentor to Ranger while he was an ROTC student as Bowling Green State University.
Memories are are of a quiet, reflective, quick-to-smile and tough-minded NCO. Davis was a Civil War history buff, and so was Ranger.
Master Sergeant Davis was a primary instructor for Military Science I and II, and both classes were a pleasure to attend. He led us on patrols and taught us Close Quarters Combat (CQC) and rifle drill. He showed no mercy in these classes and always smiled when he put us into stress positions.
In 1966, Davis returned to the active Regular Army and pinned on his Captain's bars, going to Vietnam with the 25th Division.
The Army has an odd dual-track system whereby Davis was a Regular Army Senior NCO, but also held the Reserve rank of "Captain". The Army was in need, so Davis was called up as a Reservist.
Davis was in the last all-black Airborne unit in the Army. Since he enlisted in 1952, this was probably the 505th Airborne, which devolved from the renowned 555th Airborne Battalion (the "Triple Nickles").
In Korea, the 505th was integrated into the 187th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR). This was the first all-black Parachute Infantry Battalion integrated in to a United States combat division. If memory serves, Davis wore a 187the PIR combat patch.
[As a point of interest, the all-black 2nd Ranger Company was attached to the 187th PIR, and it is likely that Davis was in this unit. The 2nd Rangers have the distinction of being the first Ranger unit to make a combat jump (Korea).]
Davis's awards included the Silver Star, Bronze Star (for both meritorious service and combat valor), Air Medal, Army Commendation, Master Parachute Badge and 2nd award of the Combat Infantry Badge.
After retirement, Davis served as a Department of the Army civilian. He also lost his eyesight. The last time we met was in 1969 at Ft. Benning (GA), when he smiled and congratulated me on my successful completion of all the normal Benning School for Boys finishing courses.
This is an homage to one of the excellent men who helped to train up a young cadet.