The Department of Veterans Affairs honored Century Village resident Clarence Henry Davis as Veteran of the Day on Sunday, Oct. 12. Davis, 91, is a Korean War combat veteran.
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. His oldest son Gary Davis, a resident of The Acreage, is a filmmaker and has completed an animation on one of his father’s Korean War stories titled “Escapes from Kumwha.” He has also completed a comic book as well. The Wellington Film Festival has chosen the animation to premiere in November.
New Jersey native Clarence Henry Davis was drafted 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. In one, he recalls writing by candlelight on a truck in the early hours of the morning following an attack.
Davis’ first job was guard duty and stringing barbed wire. He 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 U.S. Army. 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 1953, Davis returned home to Camden, N.J., 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. 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.