Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Clarence Davis, whose service during the Korean War is now a comic book.
The Army drafted Camden, New Jersey, native Clarence Henry Davis in 1951, at age 21. He served in the 625th Field Artillery Battalion, 40th Infantry Division, during the Korean War from 1951 to 1953.
Davis married his wife Eleanor in 1951 while on leave from his first post at Camp Chaffee in Arkansas. He deployed to Korea only weeks after their wedding. He didn’t see his newlywed again until 16 months later, but the two stayed in communication throughout his deployment. Davis still has many of the letters they wrote to each other during this period. In one, he recalls writing by candlelight on a truck in the early hours of the morning following an attack.
His first job was guard duty and stringing barbed wire. Davis made his way through the ranks to become a sergeant, excelling as a gunner and truck driver. The armed forces had been desegregated in 1948, but the process was ongoing, and Davis recalled that he sometimes found himself the only Black soldier in his bunker.
Davis took great care in documenting his life and his time in the Army, including his 15 months of service on the front lines in Korea, where he arrived in January 1952 and fought in Kumwha Valley.
During his service, he received a Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, United Nations Medal, Republic of Korea Service Medal and Korean Service Medal with two battle stars.
In April 1953, Davis returned home to Camden, where he reunited with his wife and started a family. He spent time working as an electronic technician before becoming an industrial art and shop teacher in New Jersey public schools. After he retired from teaching in 1996, Davis devoted his time to his family and local Veterans organizations. He and his wife became grandparents to eight grandchildren and were married for 69 years until her passing in March 2020.
Davis has written a memoir about his Korean War experiences, shedding light on his experience as a Black soldier on the newly integrated front lines. In recent years, Davis’ son has turned his stories into a comic book titled “Escape from Kumwha.” Davis turned 91 years old in January 2021.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Kacie Goeppner
Editor: Amanda Baker and Amra Kandic
Fact checker: Lia Sansoucy and Carl Wesseln
Graphic artist: Roni Ruadap