At the young age of 16, Lex “Butch” Davis signed up for the United States Army in 1961 and served two tours of duty in Korea and one tour in Vietnam. Davis’ company was on patrol near Chulai in South Vietnam on July 12, 1969. They’d had frequent firefights with the Viet Cong and captured several of them that summer. “I lied about my age,” he admits. Butch was 24 years old when he was hit and has been in pain for 38 years. You can only imagine his injuries — almost his whole body was ripped up, and he seems disabled along much of his left side — but Davis never complains.
He remembers one of his company commanders was from Arkansas, who’d split them up in separate groups. Although Davis didn’t think it was a good idea, he was not going to argue with a commanding officer. The company’s orders were to stay clear of trees, where the Viet Cong planted explosives with detonators on the ground. Around 7 p.m. while it was still light outside, someone stepped on a detonator that was wired to explosives in a nearby tree. When it exploded, it killed six and injured 28 G.I.s, along with several South Vietnamese out on patrol with the Americans. But Davis was still in one piece, and he was hoping he’d see his wife and son back home soon. Davis was supposed to leave Vietnam in a couple of days. He figured this would be his last patrol, only he didn’t know how right he would be about that. “There were enough casualties to fill a couple of helicopters,” Davis remembers.
“When the bomb hit me, it felt like a bell over my head,” he continues. “I knew I was hit. It got my whole left side.” His injuries spread all over his body, including his spinal cord which, fortunatley, was not severed. “I was one of the last flown out. I was worried they thought I was dead,” he says. He was put on a rescue helicopter along with several dead soldiers heading for the morgue.
Once he was in the helicopter, Davis was hoping the chopper crew would realize he was still alive. He’d open his eyes, then close them again. “I couldn’t move,” Davis said. “I blacked out again for a while.” Fortunately, he woke up in a hospital, then flown to another hospital in Japan. He received more treatment at the Veterans Hospital in Richmond, Virginia and months of therapy followed. He was finally released in December 1969. “I still have shrapnel in my neck,” Davis says.
Despite his disability, Davis says, “I really enjoyed the military. I was going down the wrong path when I joined up.” Butch is 62 years old now and says he’s been fortunate, considering how many of his buddies didn’t come home. He retired in 1969 with a medical discharge from the United States Army after receiving the Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman Badge, and a Purple Heart. This year, Butch was among the first 15 inductees into the Arkansas Military Veterans Hall of Fame at the Agora Center in Conway. He was first elected to the Sherwood City Council in November of 1998 and is currently in his third term as Alderman. Mr. Davis serves on the Street Committee and is a member of the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Butch also represents the City of Sherwood as a member of the Advisory Board of the Arkansas Municipal League.
He has a great attitude and loves to laugh, joke, and help others.
“I feel better than I’ve felt in years,” Davis says.