J. Kirk Davis of Palestine knows why his parents, along with millions of others in their generation, earned the title of The Greatest Generation. He shares the story of Capt. Charles W. and Ruth Davis in a book, The Hero & the Beauty, which honors their selfless determination, valor, and heroism during World War II.
Last week, Davis ensured their continuing legacy by donating his father’s Medal of Honor and his mother’s collection of memorabilia to the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation in Arlington, Texas.
The museum’s opening in 2024 will include a display dedicated to telling the story of Davis’s heroism, his Army career, his role as former President of the National Medal of Honor Society, and as a former advisor on the White House Commission on Veterans Affairs under President Ronald Reagan.
Davis’ parents were survivors, victors, and bearers of the ominous times they lived in, yet they never thought of sharing their story publicly. Their reticence wasn’t just a matter of modesty, however.
As an adult, Kirk experienced difficulty in coaxing details from his parents about their most heroic moments. He attributes their silence to post-traumatic syndrome disorder, or PTSD, and spent years piecing together the details.
“As an artist and romanticist I was compelled to reprise their sterling years filled with passion, love and honor set on a dramatic stage with WW II as a background,” Davis says.
Davis says the actions that earned his father the prestigious Medal of Honor and a lifetime of acclaim occurred over two days in the Pacific Theater.
When Captain Charles W. Davis volunteered to scout an enemy stronghold on Guadalcanal Island in January 1943, he wanted to liberate his battalion from the exhaustion of intense heat, dehydration, and insurmountable barrage of crossfire from an enemy stronghold.
After radioing the enemy’s location, Capt. Davis led a charge the next day that reversed the American Army’s stalemate on the island’s Galloping Horse Hill, eliminating the enemy stronghold.
Kirk’s mother, Joan Davis, was a stunning beauty who once turned down invitations to a Hollywood screen test. She lived in officers’ quarters near Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the day of the attack. She dodged enemy fire, was evacuated to safety that night, and slept on the floor of a high school gym -- all before giving birth to the couple’s first child in Honolulu the next day.
Though their lives were just beginning, the young couple knew little of the fame, honor, and responsibility they would experience in the following years as they continued a career of service in the armed forces.
The book eloquently narrates the details of the couple’s lives with copious evidence in the form of letters and photographs from his mother’s collection, including dozens of valuable signatures of presidents, generals, and celebrities.
Robert Shenk, the museum’s chief content officer, was on hand to accept the captain’s Medal of Honor. Shenk calls the book “a tremendous account of heroism and passion” in a recent review on amazon.com.
“While there are many excellent books on Medal of Honor recipients, this account goes well beyond the typical battlefield heroics,” Shenk said.
Davis is now confident that the museum will share his parents’ story for decades to come.
A preview pop-up exhibit including Col. Davis’s story is scheduled to appear in Arlington some time in 2021.
For more information about the museum, visit www.mohmuseum.org.