FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (May 13, 2010) - A Medal of Honor recipient from World War II and a Vietnam-era Army aviator turned Congressman became the newest members of the Fort Leavenworth Hall of Fame in a ceremony May 11 at the Lewis and Clark Center.
Col. Charles W. Davis and Rep. Leonard L. Boswell of Iowa, both former students and instructors at the Command and General Staff College, were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
J. Kirk Davis represented the Davis family as he accepted his late father's Hall of Fame induction.
Kirk Davis, who described himself as the family historian, said he learned most about his father's wartime deeds by reading history books.
"Hero: Colonel Charles W. Davis, aka 'The Hero of Galloping Horse.' His actions as a warrior have been and continue to be the subject of many a thorough accounting," Kirk Davis said. "But what about Charles Davis the man' What about his humanity' This is the side I would come to know well, but I would learn about the hero soley from books."
In January 1943, Capt. Charles Davis was the executive officer of the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, on Guadalcanal. On Jan. 22, he voluntarily carried instructions to two companies pinned down by enemy machine gun fire and stayed overnight to supervise their completion. The next day, he volunteered to lead an assault against the Japanese positions. When his rifle jammed, he drew his pistol and led his men to take the hill known as "Galloping Horse" and eventually the corps' objective. The act was personally witnessed by the division commander, Maj. Gen. "Lightning Joe" Collins, Kirk Davis said.
Charles Davis was promoted to major and presented the Medal of Honor on Guadalcanal later that year. He went on to combat in New Georgia, before being sent stateside to attend CGSC. After graduation, he was assigned to the college as an instructor specializing in Japanese tactics.
After the war, Charles Davis continued his military service in Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. After retirement, he served on the White House Commission on Veterans Affairs and was twice president of the Medal of Honor Society before his death in 1991.
Kirk Davis said he and his sister Carol were reluctant to give up their father's Medal of Honor for public display, but he changed his mind after visiting the Hall of Fame last year and seeing the Medal of Honor belonging to retired Col. Roger Donlon displayed in Donlon's Hall of Fame shadowbox.
"Simple yet elegant; majestic, yet inviting, it is a handsome tribute to hundreds of Americans whose sacrifices, including at times life itself, helped make and keep our great country safe," he said. "Now our father's story can be kept alive, not by chance or occasional publicity, but rather by its own inherent power to touch, move and inspire so many Soldiers and leaders, present as well as future, in the United States Army that he loved so much."
Boswell also had a distinguished and decorated military career, which included two stints at Fort Leavenworth.
Drafted on his birthday in 1956, Boswell earned an artillery commission through officer candidate school, where he was a distinguished military graduate. After leading an Honest John missile platoon, he was accepted to attend both fixed-wing and rotary-wing schools, both of which he graduated at the top of his class.
Boswell said he was the first Soldier from the 1st Infantry Division to set foot in South Vietnam. It was the first of two tours in Vietnam, during which he would earn the Distinguished Flying Cross with an oak leaf cluster, the Soldier's Medal, and the Bronze Star Medal with an oak leaf cluster.
Boswell attended CGSC as a student from 1967 to 1968. After commanding an assault helicopter company in Vietnam and a battalion at Fort Polk, La., Boswell was assigned to the NATO joint command in Lisbon, Portugal. He returned to CGSC as an instructor in 1974.
Then a lieutenant colonel, Boswell said he thought he had a good chance to be promoted to colonel. Boswell told the CGSC students about how his wife had asked about his next assignment one night over dinner at their quarters at 416 Grant Ave. He promised to call his assignment manager, but after he was told his next assignment would be an unaccompanied tour to Korea, he hesitated telling his wife.
When he finally told her, she said, "That's not fair."
"It hung heavy on me," Boswell said of his decision to take the assignment and possible promotion or to retire from the military after 20 years of service. "I decided to put my family first and went back to Iowa to farm."
Boswell farmed for several years, then returned to public service as an Iowa state senator in 1985, eventually working his way to become senate president. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996.
"It was truly an honor to stand before the students at the Command and General Staff College and be recognized for my years of service both in the military and in government," Boswell said. "A Soldier is only as strong as the family and loved ones that support him or her and I am very thankful for the sacrifices my wife, Dody, and my children made so that I could serve my country both in military and in public service. The families serve our men and women in uniform so they can in turn serve their country."