General Raymond Davis, who was an active member of the Advisory Board of the World War II Veterans Committee, has died at age 88.

General Davis was a combat veteran of three wars and Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps in the 1970s during a service career that lasted 34 years. During his time in the Marine Corps, Davis would become one of the most decorated military officers in United States history, being awarded the Medal of Honor, the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart.

Following his graduation from Georgia Tech in 1938 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, Davis entered the Marine Corps under the instruction of Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, who would become Davis’ lifelong role model. In World War II Davis would be involved in some of the fiercest fighting of the war at Guadalcanal and in the campaign for Peleliu, during which he would be wounded while rallying his forces despite facing intense Japanese cannon fire.

In Korea, Davis would show his bravery once again at a place that came to be known as “Frozen Chosin.” In December of 1950, Chinese forces were threatening to annihilate the American troops who had advanced far into North Korea, near the border with China. Then, Colonel Davis was given the task of rescuing Marines who were trapped within a snowy mountain pass, under bombardment from thousands of Chinese conscripts. Davis’ exploits on this rescue mission would become legendary within the Corps.

Leading his unit (First Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division) on an eight mile trek past the surrounding enemy forces, over and through narrow icy trails in temperatures approaching 30 degrees below zero, Davis would smash through the Chinese forces, reaching the trapped company of Marines and securing an escape route through the Toktong Pass. During the fighting Davis directed his men in hand-to-hand fighting against the Chinese, and was knocked to the ground when a shell fragment struck his helmet and bullets grazed his clothing. Through it all Davis remained in the front, leading his men on.

Accomplishing his mission in leading both his battalion and the trapped forces out of the mountains and leaving no wounded behind, Davis was immediately named Executive Officer of the Seventh Marines. In 1952 he was presented with the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman, with the citation reading:

“By his superb leadership, outstanding courage, and brilliant tactical ability, Lt. Col. Davis was directly instrumental in saving the beleaguered rifle company from complete annihilation and enabled two Marine regiments to escape possible destruction.”

Throughout his military career, in which he saw action in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, General Davis would constantly put himself in harm’s way, and always led from the front, yet refused to let any injuries stand in the way of a mission. “Never lost a day of duty. Luckiest guy in the world,” he recently told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. More than just lucky, General Davis was a brave and honorable man dedicated to his country and the Marines with whom he served. All of us at the World War II Veterans Committee consider it a privilege to have known and worked with him over the years.