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Benjamin Davis, Sr. file photo [5975]

Benjamin Davis, Sr.

Given NameBenjamin
Born1 Jul 1877
Died26 Nov 1970
CountryUnited States


ww2dbaseBenjamin Oliver Davis, Sr. was born in Washington, DC, United States. On 13 Jul 1898, while being a student at Howard University, he enlisted in the US Army as a temporary first lieutenant of the 8th United States Volunteer Infantry. On 18 Jun 1899m he became a private in the US Army 9th Cavalry Regiment, which was one of the original Buffalo Soldier regiments. 2 Feb 1901, he became a second lieutenant in the cavalry. On 30 Mar 1905, he reached the rank of first lieutenant, followed by captain on 24 Dec 1915. On 5 Aug 1917 and 1 May 1918, he was promoted to the war time ranks of captain and lieutenant colonel, respectively, during WW1; after the war, he reached those ranks on 14 Oct 1919 and 1 Jul 1920, respectively. On 18 Feb 1930, he was promoted the rank of colonel. On 25 Oct 1940, he was given the temporary rank of brigadier general, becoming the first African-American general in the United States Army. Although he retired on 31 Jul 1941, he was recalled to active duty on the following day as the threat of war loomed on the horizon for the United States. He contributed greatly to the use of African-American units during the European War, which was a small, but critical, step in the eventual desegregation of African-American troops in the US Army. For WW2 service, he received the award of Croix de Guerre from France and a Bronze Star and Distinguished Service Medal from the US Army. The citation to his Distinguished Service Medal, dated 11 Feb 1945, reads as follows:

For exceptionally meritorious service to the Government in a duty of great responsibility from June, 1941, to November, 1944, as an Inspector of troop units in the field, and as special War Department consultant on matters pertaining to Negro troops. The initiative, intelligence and sympathetic understanding displayed by him in conducting countless investigations concerning individual soldiers, troop units and other components of the War Department brought about a fair and equitable solution to many important problems which have since become the basis of far-reaching War Department policy. His wise advice and counsel have made a direct contribution to the maintenance of soldier morale and troop discipline and has been of material assistance to the War Department and to responsible commanders in the field of understanding personnel matters as they pertain to the individual soldier.

ww2dbaseDavis made his final retirement from the US Army on 14 Jul 1948. He passed away in Chicago, Illinois at the age of 93. His son, Benjamin Oliver Davis, Jr., was a combat pilot of the famed Tuskegee group in the US Army and fought in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Apr 2008

Benjamin Davis, Sr. Timeline

1 Jul 1877 Benjamin (Sr.) Davis was born.
26 Nov 1970 Benjamin (Sr.) Davis passed away.


Official US Army DA Form 201 portrait of Brigadier General Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr., date unknownAfrican-American US Army Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. watching a Signal Corps crew erecting poles, France, 8 Aug 1944

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Tommy Ingram says:
5 Feb 2020 05:06:08 PM

Does he have a quote related to him?

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Official US Army DA Form 201 portrait of Brigadier General Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr., date unknownAfrican-American US Army Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. watching a Signal Corps crew erecting poles, France, 8 Aug 1944

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