Military Order of the Purple Heart

Texas Capital Chapter 1919 Austin, Texas

 

MILFORD R. DAVIS
1913 - 2005

 

95th Infantry Division patch


 

MILFORD R. DAVIS

Patriot, Chapter 1919

 (ARMY, WWII, Europe) Article September 1996

Milford was a North Texas school teacher and football coach for seven years before the beginning of WWII. His advantages from that maturity and experience quickly advanced him from draftee to Captain in command of an Infantry Company in combat in Europe.  It may also be the reason Milford is the only person we know who did not get flustered when in the presence of General George Patton.

Milford Davis was born and grew up in Eliasville, Texas, a picturesque “old-Texas” community on the banks of the Brazos River a few miles downstream from Fort Belknap.  His grandfather had come to Texas from Tennessee after the Civil War and initially settled in Coleman County; but finding Indian raids too dangerous for family living there, moved to the relatively safer area around Eliasville which at that time was somewhat protected by the cavalry at Fort Griffin.  Eliasville remained a very small town until the great North Texas Oil Boom (starting at Ranger and Eastland) swelled the population almost overnight to nearly 20,000.  Then on a day in 1922, forever remembered by  nine year-old Milford, the entire town burned.  Two square miles of “shotgun shacks” and tarpaper covered dwellings, including some 72 modest “hotels” of similar construction were all consumed at one time by the uncontrolled blaze.  Thousands of oil field workers, displaced by the fire, quickly moved to other overcrowded nearby towns while 400 long-time Eliasville natives, including the Davis’, remained to rebuild. 

Following his graduation from Eliasville High School, Milford went to Daniel Baker College (now known as Howard Payne University in Brownwood), and then began his professional career as a high school teacher and coach.  After coaching in Loving (1 yr), Reisel (4 yrs), and at Lott (2 yrs), Milford was drafted into the Army in 1942, barely three months after Pearl Harbor. 

He was promoted rapidly to Corporal and then Sergeant before being selected to at­tend Officer Candidate School. Following his OCS commissioning, he was assigned as a Second Lieutenant to the 377th Infantry Regiment, 95th Infantry Division, prior to the D-Day In­vasion landing in Normandy. Milford Davis was promoted to Captain when in Command of Company D, 377th Infantry while he still had only two years total service. The 95th Division was part of General George Patton's Third Army and on several oc­casions Capt Davis encountered “old blood and guts” in person. In those several brief conversations, Milford never saw the intimidating and disdainful treatment of his subordinates described by many who served under him (several of whom are in Chapter 1919) or as is portrayed in the movies. On one memorable occasion General Patton visited Milford's Company D Com­mand Post/Observation Post for "quite a long time" observing the German disposi­tions to the front and engaging in a relaxed, almost comradely conversation with Milford for several hours. Immediately after General Patton left the area the Germans rained down a terrific shellfire on and around Milford's CP/OP. Milford Davis received the Purple Heart when wounded in action in France on 8 November 1944 and he received the Silver Star for gallantry (see news release below) on 13 December 1944 during the fighting around Fraulautern, Germany. Milford said, “A lot of us did things like that in combat all the time, I got the Silver Star only because, unknown to me at the time, the Regimen­tal Commander of the 377th was observing the action through his field glasses just as I reached the pillbox and he said, “write that man up.”  

Here is the headline in the Wichita Falls, Texas newspaper on 26 May 1945. The original accompanying ar­ticle has been edited for sizing but is worded exactly as it appears here. 

 

Texan Who Routed Nazis From

Two Pillboxes Gets Medal

WICHITA FALLS, May 26 (Spl).

"Capt. Milford R. Davis, overseas nine months as commanding officer of Com­pany D, 377th Infantry Regiment, 95th Infantry Division, is holder of the Silver Star, awarded for gallantry in action. "On 13 Dec 1944, in the vicinity of Fraulautern, Germany, a German pillbox, protected by fire from a bunker fifty yards to its flank, had held up the ad­vance of Company D. Captain Davis (then First Lieutenant) moved forward to influence his lead platoon that was direct­ly opposing the German emplacements. As he was working his way forward, Davis found a rubble-littered gully that offered a concealed approach directly to the pillbox. Without hesitation and armed only with his individual weapon and hand grenades, he quickly moved up the gully, climbed to the roof of the pillbox and dropped several grenades down the chimney. Eight dazed and wounded Ger­man soldiers staggered outside and were immediately taken prisoner by Davis. The Germans in the other pillbox, demoralized by Capt Davis' bold actions, quickly gave up and joined their captive comrades. Captain Davis' fearless con­duct is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service. Entered military service from Texas." In a few days' time, Davis' (company) had cap­tured over 300 Germans. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. H.E. Davis, now living here, are former residents of Eliasville. Two brothers are in service, Sgt Roland Davis in Italy with a hospital corps, and Pvt. Gil­bert Davis at Burbank, Cal. An aunt, Mrs. Roy McClaren resides at 612 Sixth Ave., Fort Worth." 

--WICHITA DAILY TIMES AND RECORD NEWS

 

 

After the war Milford obtained his Master’s Degree from (then) North Texas State Teachers College in Denton, and resumed his career, teaching and coaching football and basketball.  Initially coaching in Laredo, Milford was influenced by Tony Berger to move to Austin as head coach at Travis High School where he remained for a number of years.  Later, Milford Davis was Principal of Porter Junior High School; and then closed out a distinguished teaching career as Director of Pupil Services, Austin Independent School District.  Throughout his post-war career, Milford remained in the Army Reserve.  He graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and served as Commander of an Infantry Battalion.

Milford R. Davis provided this Purple Heart story for publication in the September 1996 issue of PATRIOT BULLETIN.  Milford passed away in February 2005.

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