Oscar Davis, Jr., just received his long-awaited Purple Heart. Years ago, 92-year-old Davis was informed the Purple Heart would be bestowed on him, yet it didn’t happen until Saturday. For 72 years, he waited. He was finally awarded when the honor was pinned to his jacket by Lieutenant Colonel Marcus Wright.

Davis, then a private, fought in Belgium, World War II. He was with the 1st Battalion (505th PIR), the same regiment as Wright, a commander of the Battalion who presided over the ceremony. While fighting Nazis during the last German offensive, Davis was a radio telephone operator, which was on his back.

While in the forested Ardennes region, and resulting from a barrage of German shells, shrapnel hit and the radio on his back saved him, knocking him down. Artillery also felled a tree, which landed on Davis and pinned him. His spine was injured and he was paralyzed waist down for 3 weeks. Ultimately, Davis rejoined his unit in Germany.

Celebrating medal with Davis

Davis, who now lives in Fayetteville, NC, was honored where he lives at the Heritage Place. The former paratrooper was joined in the dining room by several soldiers, all with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (82nd Airborne Division), along with family and friends.

The paperwork for Davis’ award was never signed, which led to the 72-year delay.

Waiting for the medal was worth it, Davis said, and he thanked the Lord. People attending the ceremony waited in line to congratulate him. The eventual ceremony, 2 years in the works, was spearheaded by the volunteer-based Veterans’ Legacy Foundation, which helped Davis receive his long-overdue medal. According to the Foundation’s executive director John Elskamp, headquartered in Harnett County, NC, volunteers poured through war report archives to verified Davis’ WW II injuries.

Additional medals awarded to Davis

The Foundation previously assisted Davis in receiving additional medals, including the Bronze Star, which was awarded to him at a 2015 ceremony held at the U.S. Army (Airborne & Special Operations) Museum, also in Fayetteville. Captain Andrew Hammack – commander of A Company, 1st Battalion (505th PIR) – said Davis is still one of “us”; presently, though, he’s not reporting for duty. The Purple Heart is the United States’ oldest medal awarded – in the name of the President – to military members wounded or killed.