29th Soldiers participate in ceremony honoring WWI veteran

Sgt. Maj. Michael Seaton, operations sergeant major with the Virginia Army National Guard’s Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division, assists with planting a memorial tree to honor the memory of World War I veteran Pvt. Herman Davis during a ceremony in Manila, Arkansas March 4, 2018. (Army National Guard photo by Capt. Scott Campbell)

MANILA, Ark. – Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division participated in a memorial tree planting ceremony to honor the memory of Pvt. Herman Davis, a decorated World War I veteran, March 4, 2018, in Manila, Arkansas. The ceremony commemorates the 100th anniversary of Davis’s enlistment into Company I, 113th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division.

Davis was named fourth among Pershing’s 100, a list of one hundred individual acts of extraordinary heroism put together by General of the Armies John J. Pershing following the end of the war. Davis was credited with multiple acts of gallantry, most notably the taking of several enemy machine gun nests during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. For his heroism, Davis was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, as well as the French Croix de Guerre with Palm, the Croix de Guerre with Gilt Star and the Médaille Militaire.

“It’s an honor to be able to participate in today’s ceremony,” said Sgt. Maj. Michael Seaton, the operations sergeant major for the 29th Infantry Division. “This has been a great opportunity to learn more about the Soldiers of the 29th who came before us.”

Seaton assisted with the planting of a willow oak tree in remembrance of Davis. The ceremony was held at Herman Davis State Park, where a memorial and statue of Davis stand.

Arkansas State Senator Dave Wallace, a Vietnam veteran and retired Army lieutenant colonel, served as the event’s keynote speaker. Wallace said of Davis’s actions, “Courage does not mean you are not afraid. True courage means you are afraid and go into harm’s way to protect your buddies and to complete your mission. Herman Davis saved lives.”

Wallace also read a letter from Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, commending Davis’s service and sacrifice. “Davis’s noble life rightfully continues to be honored and admired by his fellow Arkansans. I am grateful to the American Legion for making this event possible, so we can remember real heroes that came from Arkansas.”

“To echo the governor’s sentiments, we are equally grateful for the opportunity to honor and remember a veteran of the 29th Infantry Division,” said Capt. Scott Campbell of the 29th.

On behalf of the division, Campbell presented a commemorative print from the division’s recent deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve to the members of the Herman Davis American Legion Post 197 as a token of appreciation for including the division in the ceremony.

Members of Post 197 coordinated with the Mississippi County Library System and the Manila Depot Museum to plan the ceremony.

Capt. Scott Campbell, a public affairs officer with the Virginia Army National Guard’s Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division, presents a commemorative print from the division’s recent deployment to Post Historian Gregg Roll, American Legion Post 197, during a ceremony in Manila, Arkansas March 4, 2018. (Courtesy photo)