Hometown Hero in Alexandria

Hometown Hero in Alexandria

Paris Davis honored by local community.

Retired Army Colonel Paris Davis, the nation’s most recent recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, was celebrated at a reception in his honor June 17 at the Capt. Rocky Versace Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza in Del Ray.

The event took place 58 years to the day that a wounded and bloodied Davis, then a Special Forces captain, twice refused orders to quit the battlefield of Bong Son until he had saved multiple wounded teammates in a brutal 19-hour hand to hand battle with a Viet Cong battalion. Due to his heroics, Davis’s entire team survived the battle. 

President Joe Biden presented Davis, a longtime Alexandria resident, with the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony March 3. Davis was also inducted into the Pentagon Hall of Heroes.

Retired Navy Captain Eugene “Red” McDaniel, who spent six years as a POW in Vietnam, gave remarks, noting that as a Vietnam soldier at the height of the conflict, Davis never received the welcome home and accolades he and his men deserved.

“Those of us released in 1973 came home to a hero’s welcome,” McDaniel said. “Col. Davis never knew that feeling of appreciation for the service and sacrifice he had given for his country. This recognition, this Medal of Honor, is long overdue.”

A proclamation from the City of Alexandria was read on behalf of Mayor Justin Wilson and members of City Council, who were unable to attend due to a council meeting at City Hall. Daniel Gade, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, made the presentation to Davis.

Medal of Honor recipient Paris Davis, second from right, is congratulated by Police Chief Don Hayes, former Mayor Allison Silberberg and Sheriff Sean Casey at a reception in Davis’ honor June 17 at the Mount Vernon Recreation Center. 


Fellow Vietnam Medal of Honor recipient Brian Thacker traveled from his home in Maryland to meet Davis and visit the Capt. Rocky Versace Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza. Versace, who grew up just blocks from the Plaza that now bears his name, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2002 for heroism during his time in captivity. It was the first time an Army POW had been awarded the nation's highest honor for actions in captivity.  

Davis and Thacker paid their respects to Versace, whose remains have never been accounted for, with a salute at the Gold Star bearing his name.

A highly decorated veteran who served 26 years in the U.S. Army, Davis was one of the first African Americans to lead a Special Forces team in combat.

“There were not many African Americans in Special Forces,” Davis said. “I had a lot of people say to me ‘Are you sure you want to go into Special Forces? I don’t see a lot of people who look like you there.’ But I was inspired by President Kennedy, who created the Special Forces, and wanted to be a part of it. I knew what I was getting into.”

In attendance at the reception were Alexandria Police Chief Don Hayes, Sheriff Sean Casey, former Mayor Allison Silberberg, and Jerry Krueger, Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 609.

Mike Mixon, Commander of American Legion Post 24, was joined by several Legion members in a presentation to Davis of an honorary lifetime membership to Post 24.

Now 84 years old, Davis retired as a colonel in 1985. For 30 years, he published the Metro Herald, an African American newspaper that was headquartered on North Washington Street.

“This is a very special day,” Davis said. “I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of appreciation and gratitude that everyone has shown me here today.”