Mr. George G. Davis, ’40
In his own words:
My military career started at The Ohio State University in 1936 when I signed up for ROTC in the Corps of Engineering that was headed by Major Thomas, who was to later reappear in my duty assignment in Italy. After four years, I graduated in 1940 with a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering degree, and was appointed a Second Lieutenant in the Army.
On July 1, 1940, I was employed by the Armco Steel Company in Middletown, Ohio. Then, on December 18, 1940, I was ordered to report to Fort Knox, Kentucky for one year of active duty. My assignment was to the 161h Armored Engineer Battalion of the First Armored Division. After serving one year, I was home on terminal leave when Pearl Harbor happened. Of course, an order was received to report back to Fort Knox on December 18, 1941.
The division was moved to Camp Dix in New Jersey in April, 1942, and my next assignment was to board the Acquatania on April 17, 1942 to be part of the advanced detail of the division on its way to Northern Ireland. My specific job was to inspect the bridges from the Port of Belfast to the various camps to make certain that the tanks would have no problems; none were found.
The division moved to England, and then to North Africa where I arrived on December 21, 1942. After the war in North Africa, the division rested in Rabat, Morocco, where I was assigned the command of Company B. The company was then moved to the Oran area to prepare the area for the arrival of the division. A significant decision was made to separate Company B from the division and be assigned to the VI Corps. As a result, Company B plus a brigade platoon from Company E prepared for the invasion of Italy. When I reported to the headquarters of the VI Corps, The Corps Engineer turned out to be Colonel Thomas, my Military Professor at Ohio State. It was a delightful experience to work for Colonel Thomas.
The company landed at Salerno , Italy (Operation Avalanche) on D-Day, September 9, 1943. After a rugged invasion, the company constructed twenty-seven Treadway and Bailey bridges in a three month period for the VI Corps. At the end of this period, I was presented The Legion of Merit for the excellent performance of the company.
The company rejoined the division and eventually moved to the Anzio beachhead. Sometime after the breakout of the beachhead, the company moved north and built bridges over the Arno River. After which I was promoted to Major and assigned to Battalion Headquarters as S-3.
While the division rested before breaking out into the Po Valley, a special group called Dogpatch was formed headed by General Howze to develop means for the tanks to roll through the many ditches that covered the Po Valley. My assignment was the Engineer Officer and the location was near an Italian tree farm. Many trees were cut and probably every one of them was counted by the Italians. Several ‘gadgets” including the use of the Treadway bridge were developed for use by the tankers.
My greatest achievement probably occurred when my company was attached to the VI Corps. All of a sudden, the company became short of officers and I made applications for three staff sergeants to be given battlefield commissions. All were approved; one day two of them were staff sergeants of their platoon, and the next day they were Second Lieutenants of the same platoon. This was most unusual. But no problems occurred, as these new lieutenants were outstanding men. I believe that the Army normally transfers new battlefield officers to a new unit, but we were sort of isolated so no changes were made. In fact, one of the lieutenants rose to be company commander of the same company that he joined as a private.
After the war, I returned to the Armco Steel Company in the Industrial Engineering Department, and retired on March 31, 1975, as Manager of Industrial Engineering. Also, I remained in the Army Reserve.
From the nomination letter by Brigadier General (Ret) Carlos K. Hayden, OSU ROTC Class of 1941:
Davis and his company survived a rough landing at Salerno and constructed twenty seven bridges during the Salemo operation. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for his outstanding performance during the Salemo operation. Davis was back with the 161h Armored Engineer Battalion when the Allies broke out of the beachhead and proceeded north. Once again Davis’ outstanding performance was recognized when he was made S-3 of the Battalion and promoted to Major. Davis’ decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Italian Military Valor Cross and five battle stars.
After the war Davis returned to the Industrial Engineering Department of the Armco Steel Company and retired 31, 1975 as Manager of Industrial Engineering. He has been active and influential in the activities of the 1st Armored Division Association, serving as Vice President, President and currently as a member of the Board of Directors.
It is with great pleasure that I nominate Major George G. Davis for the OSU Army ROTC Hall of Fame. Major Davis exemplifies the very best of the citizen-soldier that the ROTC was designed to foster. With his accomplishments in civilian life and his outstanding military career, Major Davis epitomizes the ideal ROTC graduate.