DAVIS (VETERAN WWI, FAMOUS), HERMAN - Mississippi County, Arkansas | HERMAN DAVIS (VETERAN WWI, FAMOUS) - Arkansas Gravestone Photos


Herman Davis State Park Cemetery
Mississippi County,

Company I 113 Infantry 29 Division
World War I
January 3, 1888 - January 5, 1923

Herman Davis was born at Big Lake Island, later renamed Manila in Mississippi Co., AR. He was the son of Jeff and Mary Ann Vance Davis. Herman left school in the 4th grade to help out the family. He became an excellent marksman and lead hunting expeditions at an early age. He used his shooting skills to earn a living for his family and to supply them with food. When WWI began he tried to enlist; but, because of his small, 5’3” stature, his enlistment application was rejected. However, he was drafted into the US Army on Mar 4, 1918, and after basic training, he was sent to France as a member of Company I, 113th Regiment, 29th Division. Herman was a scout and was exposed to poisonous gas many times on his patrols. While on patrol in the valley near Verdun, his platoon came under fire from a German machine gun. The gun was situated on a hill that penned down the US forces. Davis crawled inch by inch to within fifty yards of the gunman. He lay on his stomach and killed 4 enemy gunners. In another engagement he was credited with killing 15 enemy gunners within a machine gun nest. At this same engagement he killed 11 enemy soldiers who were climbing out of a dugout. Later, Herman shot and killed 5 enemy soldiers who were attempting to set up a machine gun they believed to be out of shooting range of the Americans. But Herman said that that 1,000 yards was just “good shootin’ distance” for him. There were other encounters where he saved his fellow Americans from disaster by his scouting and shooting abilities. Herman was honorably discharged May 29, 1919. The United States awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross, France presented him with the Croix de Guerre with Palm, the Croix de Guerre with Gilt Star and the French Medaille Militaire. General John J. Pershing listed Herman Davis fourth on a list of the greatest heroes of World War I. Herman returned to his home in Manila and told no one about his medals. When General Pershing’s list was published his friends and family were astonished to find him among the heroes. He kept his medals in a tackle box. In 1922 his health began to fail due to tuberculosis. The members of the Dud Cason American Legion Post took him to the Veteran’s Hospital in Memphis where he died during surgery. In 1925, the city of Manila donated land on the corner of Baltimore Street and Highway 18 to erect a memorial for Herman Davis. A campaign called “pennies drive” by the children of Arkansas helped to pay for the 25 ft. granite spire behind the life-sized marble statue of him. His body was moved from the Manila Cemetery and reinterred at the base of the monument. On April 7, 1995, the monument was entered on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1954 the iron fountain near the entrance of the Old State House in Little Rock was renamed the Herman Davis Memorial Fountain and a plaque was added in his honor. The fountain has been a part of Arkansas history since the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Tom Todd

For additional information:

Ross, Margaret Smith. “Herman Davis, Forgotten Hero.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 14 (Spring 1955): 51–61.

Snider, Nan. “Herman Davis: World War One Hero.” Country Chronicles, June 1993,: 1–4.

Vermillion, Ricky. “The Story of Herman Davis.” Craighead County Historical Quarterly 7 (Autumn 1969): 15–19.

Contributed on 9/13/08 by vassarconnie
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Record #: 56549

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Submitted: 9/13/08 • Approved: 6/14/15 • Last Updated: 6/17/15 • R56549-G0-S3

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