DAVIS, THOMAS JAMES

Name: Thomas James Davis
Rank/Branch: E5/US Army
Unit: Company B, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade
Date of Birth: 30 September 1947
Home City of Record: Eufalfa AL
Date of Loss: 11 March 1968
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 153740N 1081647E (BT085295)
Status (in 1973): Released POW
Category:
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground

Other Personnel In Incident: Isiah R. McMillan (released POW); Porter E.
Calloway (missing)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 June 1990 from one or more of the
following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with
POW/MIA families, published sources, including data from "The Survivors" by
Zalen Grant, pp. 94-98, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2012.

REMARKS: 730316 RELSD BY PRG

SYNOPSIS: SGT Porter E. Calloway was on his next to last month in Vietnam.
Corporal Isiah R. "Ike" McMillan had just returned from R & R. SGT Thomas J.
"Tom" Davis was one of the new guys in Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st
Infantry.

In March 1968, members of 196th Bravo were sent deep into the bush around
Happy Valley in South Vietnam. Setting up on Hill 407, Que Son Valley, Quang
Tri Province, two platoons went on Search and Destroy; another line platoon
and the six-man weapons platoon stayed on the hill with the company
commander. Before lunch, a platoon radioed that it had walked into a
thirty-man ambush, and that the platoon leader had been shot in the stomach.
(A binocular search of the platoon location revealed that it was much more
than 30 men.)

Leaving the weapons platoon (with McMillan and Davis and Calloway) on the
hill, the company commander mobilized the line platoon to go to the
assistance of the ambushed platoon, and ordered the two S & D platoons to
merge. The weapons platoon was left without a radio. When a mortar attack
commenced on the hill, the weapons platoon abandoned its position on the
hill to seek cover on lower ground. Three men left by the east side and
three went down the west side of the hill. As they had no radio, they were
in peril both from the enemy, the troops below, and overhead spotter planes
and support strike aircraft.

Davis, McMillan and Calloway, having gone down the east side of the hill,
ran into a machine gun ambush. Davis, McMillan and Calloway were together,
and began to retreat. Calloway was a short-timer and in a panic. He jumped
up and started to run and was hit in the thigh. The others bandaged his leg
and continued to move toward a small house at the edge of the rice paddy
they were in. By the time they reached the hooch, Calloway was in shock from
loss of blood. They evaded for several hours here until the Vietnamese
smoked them out with gas grenades. The three were captured and taken away as
prisoners of the Viet Cong.

By late night, Calloway was still bleeding. By morning, he was panicked
because he couldn't breathe. Davis tried to help him, but his captors
stopped him. When the guard understood Calloway was in crisis, he got help
and took Calloway to a table where he died. McMillan reported during his
debrief that they were about 1 1/2 kilometers northeast of the Fire Support
base hill, and that the Vietnamese buried Calloway 50-75 meters east of this
position near three buildings.

The U.S. maintained Porter E. Calloway in Missing in Action status. His
classification was never changed to that of Prisoner of War. During the
period he was maintained missing, he was advanced in rank to Staff Sergeant.

McMillan and Davis were held captives in Happy Valley and other camps in the
South until they were moved north in 1971. For Americans captured in South
Vietnam, life was brutally difficult. Primarily, these men suffered from
disease induced by an unfamiliar and inadequate diet - dysentery, edema,
skin fungus and eczema. The inadequate diet coupled with inadequate medical
care led to the deaths of many.

Besides dietary problems, these POWs had other problems. They were moved
regularly to avoid being in areas that would be detected by U.S. troops, and
occasionally found themselves in the midst of U.S. bombing strikes. Supply
lines to the camps were frequently cut off, and when they were, POWs and
guards alike suffered. Unless they were able to remain in one location long
enough to grow vegetable crops and tend small animals, their diet was
limited to rice and what they could gather from the jungle.

In addition to the primitive lifestyle imposed on these men, their Viet Cong
guards could be particularly brutal in their treatment. For any minor
infraction, including conversation with other POWs, the Americans were
psychologically and physically tortured. American POWs brought back stories
of having been buried to the neck; held for days in a cage with no
protection from insects and the environment; having had water and food
withheld; being shackled and beaten. The effects of starvation and torture
frequently resulted in hallucinations and extreme disorientation.

This was the life Davis and McMillan endured for the next three years.
Ultimately, they were moved to Hanoi and released in 1973 in Operation
Homecoming. Calloway's body has never been returned to his family for
burial. The Vietnamese deny any knowledge of him.

Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing in
Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Many officials, having
reviewed this largely classified information have reluctantly concluded that
hundreds of them are still alive in captivity today.

The U.S. continues to raise the question of the fate of Porter E. Calloway
with the communist government of Vietnam. The Vietnamese continue to deny
any knowledge of him.

============================
Thomas Davis retired from the United States Army as a CSM after a 30 year
stint. He taught ROTC at Armstrong State in Savannah, GA. His wife's name is
Barbara.

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CSM Thomas J. Davis, NAM-POW:
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