On the dark morning hours of Nov. 18, 1967, PFC Sammy L. Davis and the men of Battery C, 2nd BN, 4th Artillery Regiment, 9th ID came under attack by a force of over 1500 NVA and the only thing that divided the firebase and the enemy was a river.
PFC Davis seized a machine gun and provided covering fire for his guncrew, as they attempted to bring direct artillery fire on the enemy. Despite his efforts, an enemy recoilless rifle round scored a direct hit on his artillery piece. The resultant blast hurled the guncrew from their weapon and blew Davis to the ground. With Davis knocked out, the enemy rushed his howitzer trying to turn it on the remaining Americans. The next American gun positions saw this, and fired a beehive round directly onto Davis's gun, not knowing that Davis was still alive right next to it. Davis recalled 30 beehive darts in his legs, butt, and lower back. His flak jacket was successful in protecting the rest of his back.
Nevertheless, PFC Davis woke up after being hit, loaded his artillery piece solo, aimed, and fired. Again he was knocked down by the recoil. In complete disregard for his safety, Davis loaded and fired 3 more shells into the enemy.
Ignoring his extensive injuries and his inability to swim, PFC Davis picked up an air mattress and struck out across the deep river to rescue 3 wounded comrades on the far side. Upon reaching the 3 wounded men, he stood upright and fired into the dense vegetation to prevent the enemy from advancing.
While the most seriously wounded soldier was helped across the river, Davis protected the 2 remaining casualties until he could pull them across the river to the fire support base. Though suffering from painful wounds, he refused medical attention, joining another howitzer crew that fired at the large enemy force until it broke contact and fled.
For his actions, PFC Davis was awarded the Medal of Honor.
The footage of his Medal of Honor award ceremony was used in the 1994 film Forrest Gump, with actor Tom Hanks' head superimposed over that of Davis.
Medal of Honor Recipient