Army North bids farewell to deputy commander
November 28, 2012
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - Army North civilians and military members bid farewell to Maj. Gen. Walter Davis, deputy commanding general for operations, U.S. Army North, during a Nov. 27 tattoo ceremony in the historic Quadrangle.
Davis, who began his Army career in 1979 as a distinguished military graduate of the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va., officially retired following a 33-year career that included assignments in Korea, Germany, Kuwait, the Pentagon and many others.
"It's hard to imagine that a really bad experience - student-teaching physical education at Denbigh High School in Newport News, Va. - led me to an understanding that perhaps taking a regular Army commission wasn't such a bad idea after all," said Davis.
"Even if it was in the artillery, where I had to trudge around the mountains of South Korea my first year with a PRC-77 (portable VHF FM combat-net radio transceiver) loaded in a rucksack, and I was sleeping on a very large plastic map case that my brother, 1st Lt. Clint Davis, had sent me from Germany, on the side of a snow-covered hill with the 1st (Battalion) of the 38th Infantry (Regiment)."
The seasoned Army aviator, a native of Alexandria, Va., said that despite the hardships, the brotherhood of Soldiers and the importance of the mission convinced him that the Army was the right career.
"Really, from that beginning and for the next 33 years, what struck me was that there's always someone right beside you, whether they were above you in rank and position; whether they were alongside you as a peer or subordinate to you, all of them, they were Soldiers," said Davis. "They were always by your side, believing in you, making you understand that being a part of something bigger than yourself was the most important thing," said Davis.
After leaving the artillery, Davis went on to become an Army aviator. He is certified on six different Army aircraft, with more than 1,500 flight hours.
During the ceremony, as the narrator read through the list of assignments Davis served in, the 323rd Army Band played the distinctive unit song for each unit.
After commanding the 229th Attack Helicopter Regiment, XVIII Airborne Corps, and serving as the chief, Readiness Division, Deputy Directorate for Global Operations, Operations Directorate, Joint Staff, he was chosen in 2004 to establish and command the Army's new 20th Support Command CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosives).
At Army North, Davis was responsible for leading and managing operations for Northern Command's Joint Force Land Component Command. He was also responsible for the training and readiness oversight of the Army's homeland defense and response forces that provide support to civil authorities.
"I've had the privilege of serving with Walt Davis twice in my career," said Lt. Gen. William Caldwell IV, commanding general, Army North, and senior commander, Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis. "He's a man who has made a lasting impact on nearly everyone he's ever met. As I spoke with a number of Soldiers, past and present, who served with Walt over the past few years, we all agreed that Walt was a professional, an exceptional mentor and someone who truly epitomized selfless service."
For Davis, Army service is a family tradition.
"Walt carries on a proud legacy of service," said Caldwell. "His father served in the Army during the Second World War, earning a Silver Star and a Bronze Star medal. And, oh by the way, he also served under (Lt. Gen.) Mark Clark at Fifth Army. This same tradition of service was passed down to Walt and his two brothers and lives on with his son, Kyle, currently serving as an Apache pilot at Fort Rucker, Ala."
Davis, an avid fly fisherman, recently became a proud grandfather with the birth of Emma in October. Davis has another son, Ryan, who is attending college, and a daughter, Lindsey, who works as a lab technician.
"I simply want to close by telling every one of you, and those that you represent, military and civilian, all components, family and friends, thanks from the bottom of my heart for everything that you've done for me, for my family, for our current military force, and for making this old Soldier's time in the military something that I would not change one minute of - even if my life depended on it," Davis told guests at the ceremony.
"I look forward to the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead, and I hope and pray that in some small way, I am able to give back in some measure that which was so selflessly and graciously given to me: a life and career in the United States Army."
Davis was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his service during the ceremony.