Cobra ‘bad boy’ credited with lifesaving

Published 7:10 pm Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Walter Davis stood silently looking at the snarling teeth of the Cobra gunship mounted sky high at Troy’s Bicentennial Park.

He shook his head, not to clear the memory of March 15, 1970, but to bring it into sharp focus.

“I was with the Army’s 25th Infantry Division in the Black Virgin Mountains near Cambodia,” he said. “Three hundred and fifty-seven of us went up the mountain. One hundred and sixty-nine came down. The ‘bad boy’ up there saved my life. I could have died up on that mountain and would have if it hadn’t been for the Cobra gunship with those scary teeth.”

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Davis said the chopper that occupies such a lofty place at Bicentennial Park holds an even more prominent place in his mind and heart.

“Up there on top of the mountain, my company ran into sniper and rocket propelled grenade fire,” Davis said. “There were (Vietnamese) on both sides of us and behind us and we were trying to get down the mountain. Me and four other soldiers got separated from the rest of the company. We all got shot up. One soldier was shot in the chest and we were trying to carry him. I never thought we’d make it down.”

Davis got on a radio and called for help but there was no one who could help.

“I asked if there were any gunships anywhere around and the commander said there were,” Davis said. “I asked if they could come firing down the mountain to give us some cover. They asked for smoke and I fired red smoke. The pilot said, ‘I see red smoke’ and we started running. The lead ship had teeth. That was some sight, seeing those teeth coming after the (Vietnamese). If it hadn’t been for those gunships we wouldn’t have made it.”

Davis said the Cobra gunship that saved his life is the same one that is the centerpiece at Bicentennial Park.

When his tour of duty ended, he came home and found construction work near Fort Rucker.

“I wanted to do some research on those gunships that had saved my life and I met a pilot that told me he was flying that lead gunship that got us off that mountain,” Davis said.

“He said that gunship was the only one with teeth painted on the nose. He said the Army had brought the gunships back and had taken them apart and stored them.”

Some years later, Davis said the Cobra ‘bad boy” that saved his life was donated to the city of Troy.

“That gunship is real special to me,” he said. “It saved my life and my buddies.”

Bicentennial Park is a special place for Davis for other reasons – two of them. His dad’s name, Howard M. Davis, has been placed on the World War II Memorial Wall and so is the name of an uncle, Alton Ray Davis.

Davis received the Purple Heart for injuries he received on Black Virgin Mountain and a Silver Star for valor in the face of the enemy and a Bronze Star for bravery.

He is credited with having saved the lives of the four soldiers who were penned on the Vietnam mountain with him.

Those medals have great meaning for him but nothing means more to him than the name that is emblazoned on the Bicentennial Memorial Wall that honors the gallant service of his dad, Howard M. Davis.