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    97-year-old son honors his father, a California National Guardsman’s Legacy

    97-year-old son honors his father, a California National Guardsman’s Legacy

    Photo By Lt. Col. Cara Kupcho | Photos of 1st Sgt. Artur Davis World War I awards and decorations within a shadowbox....... read more read more



    Story by Lt. Col. Cara Kupcho 

    40th Infantry Division (Mech)

    97-year-old, World War II Veteran, James Davis holds tight to his memory and legacy of his loving father, a California Army National Guardsman, and World War I Veteran, Arthur Clayton Davis.

    “Still in high school, my father enlisted in A Company, 7th Infantry, California Army National Guard in 1915,” said Davis.

    A year into his guard service, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Defense Act on June 3, 1916, to order troops to defend the United States border from Mexico.

    Eight days following the order, National Guard units from the bordering states were called in response to Francisco “Poncho” Villas raids in the southern region of the United States. Guardsmen from California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas were all activated in support of the President’s order.

    “At that time, Pvt. Davis, my father, along with the 7th Infantry, California Army National Guard accompanied units across the country. They assembled in the city of Nogales, Arizona,” Davis explained.

    The Mexican border-town Nogales, Arizona was one of the main assembly areas for many of the National Guard units.

    According to California state historical records, California’s Governor, Hiram W. Johnson, mobilized the California Army National Guard immediately. Johnson has troops mustered and transported to defensive positions along the California-Mexico border into Arizona within two weeks.

    “Upon return from the six-month border activation, my father was honorably discharged from the California National Guard and returned to finish high school,” said Davis, “it was 1917 and he made the rank of Corporal.”

    That same year, according to United States history, German military intelligence sent a telegram to the Mexican government known as the "Zimmermann Telegram".

    The telegram was intercepted and decoded by British Intelligence. The telegram stated that Germany would propose an alliance with Mexico in support of a war against the United States.

    In response to the telegram, Wilson asked Congress, “for a war to end all wars and to make the world safe for democracy”. April 6, 1917, war was declared on Germany.

    “After my father graduated from high school on May 17, 1917, he reenlisted in the California Army National Guard that same day,” said Davis, “upon reenlistment, he was promoted to the rank of 1st Sgt. and became Charlie “C” Company’s first, 1st Sgt.” Charlie Company was an Engineer Company."

    “I believe that my father shown leadership, and with his past experience in the California National and his activation on the border mission were suitable reasons for the promotion and new responsibility,” said Davis.

    August 5, 1917, Charlie Company was federalized and reconfigured to “F” Company, 2nd Battalion, 117th Engineer Regiment, 42nd Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Force.

    Prior to federalization, both California National Guard and South Carolina National Guard each had an Engineer Battalion that included A, B, C company structures.

    When the 42nd Infantry Division was created, it included the 117th Engineer Regiment that would encompass both battalions from each state.

    “The reconfiguration of companies with the two battalions was done by the commander of the 117th Engineer Regiment, a “full-bird” Colonel from South Carolina,” Davis explained, “he, the 117th Engineer Regiment Commander, insisted that A, B, C companies would be from South Carolina National Guard, and D, E and F companies would be from California National Guard.”

    It seemed like a small-world as Davis explained the 117th Engineer Regiment Commander was his sister’s Godfather.

    Reconfiguration of units happened without real military doctrine until after World War I. Reconfiguration of Army National Guard units was done to meet the needs of the active Army.

    At the time, General Douglas MacArthur, the Chief of Staff of the 42nd Infantry Division “Rainbow Division” commented, “The 42nd Division stretched like a rainbow from one end of America to the other.” The 42nd Infantry Division consisted of National Guard units from 26 states including Washington, District of Columbia.

    History also states that the naming of the 42nd Infantry Division was stemmed from the indication that a rainbow is shown at a 42-degree angle, where light exits a collection of droplets.

    “My father grew up around mines and explosives because my grandfather, William Bradley Davis was a superintendent of a large gold mine and mill in Aurora, Nevada,” stated Davis, “my father’s skills and knowledge to work around and with explosives served him well in the engineering company and when he deployed to fight Germany.”

    “My father, now as the 1st Sgt. of “F” company, led his company overseas to fight in France and remained in Europe until Occupation Duty of Germany.

    F Company fought in four campaigns that included Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, Battle of Saint-Mihiel, and Meuse-Argonne Offensive. A total of 264 days of combat.

    “My father took pride in being both E and F company’s First Sergeant,” said Davis. Davis added that his father oversaw E company during his time of war.

    The California National Guard historical documentation of who fought in War World I within the California Engineer Company’s D, E, and F are kept with the current 578th Brigade Engineer Battalion (BEB) located in Manhattan Beach, California, and the Veterans Associations of the 42nd Infantry Division “Rainbow Division”.

    May 17, 1919, 1st Sgt. Davis was honorability discharged from the Army. Upon return from war, he started his dream job as a Touring Counselor at the Automobile Club of Southern California in Los Angeles. He kept that job for 37 years.

    “My father was also a cartographer, he loved to make maps,” added Davis, “this was something he was good at during his time in the military. He said it let him see what was over the next hill and around the next bend of the road.”

    Arthur Davis took great pride in the 42nd Rainbow Division for the rest of his life. He was dedicated and an active member of the Rainbow Veteran Affairs. Davis, along with two of his closes friends from F Company was appointed as Chapter’s Permanent Memorial Committee.

    In 1935, his committee's efforts were recognized on Memorial Day with a dedicated monument for all the Rainbow Division’s fallen Soldiers.

    Today, the monument is located in Rainbow Grove, Exposition Park in Los Angeles, California. There are discussions on moving the monument closer to the California National Guard Armory where the 578th BEB resides in Manhattan Beach, California.

    Along with the monument, the 578th BEB guidon holds two World War I campaign streamers awarded to the Battalion for D, E, and F company’s actions within the well-known campaigns that ultimately saved the world.

    “My father had many “loves”; his family, his work, the Rainbow and railroads,” recalls Davis, “at one-thirty in the morning, June 6, 1987, the lonesome wail of a locomotive whistle echoed over California’s San Fernando Valley.” Davis paused, “my father boarded that train for his trip “Over the Rainbow” to meet his comrades once again.”

    Arthur Davis holds many awards and decorations. His awards that are listed are in chronicle order: Mexican Border Service Medal (Mexican Border), Silver Star for Gallantry in Action, War World I Victory Medal with campaign stars for Champagne-Marne, Aisne-Marne, Battle of Saint-Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne Defensive Sector, The Occupation of German Medal and The French Government Medals for campaigns listed above (War World 1, United States involvement from 6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918).



    Date Taken: 03.06.2021
    Date Posted: 03.22.2021 11:44
    Story ID: 391933
    Location: LOS ALAMITOS, CA, US 

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