Ramon Roderick Davis - Captain
Died: Suchon, North Korea
Captain Ramon Roderick Davis was a veteran of two wars serving in both World War II and the Korean War as a fighter pilot. Davis was born right here in Ames on October 12, 1924. He was the younger brother of James Davis. Ramon graduated Ames high school in 1942 and moved on to attend what was at the time Iowa State College. Davis was at Iowa State for only 2 ½ months majoring in forestry. While his time at Iowa State was short his country needed him for more pressing matters. Davis enlisted in the United States army on November 14th, 1942, in Des Moines, Iowa. After receiving extensive training by the army air forces Davis was deployed with the, 63rd fighter squadron, part of the 56th fighter group to RAF’s Boxted air base in Britain on January 9th, 1943.
The 56th fighter group was an elite force known as the wolfpack. The group was the second most successful group in air-to-air combat in the entire US Army Air Forces, the group participated in air support for the invasion of Normandy in June of 1944 as well as the Battle of the Bulge at the end of 1944. Because of its actions attacking anti-aircraft sites in the Netherlands, the group earned a distinguished unit citation. At the time that Davis received his distinguished unit citation his unit had destroyed 550 German planes in the air plus another 50 on the ground and was the highest scoring group in the 2nd bombardment division. While stationed in Britain, Davis flew sorties with his P-47 thunderbolt aircraft over northern France, the Rhineland, Ardennes, and Germany. In September of 1944 Davis was promoted from 2nd lieutenant to 1st lieutenant for his role in bombing a railyard in Nazi occupied France. Davis, and seven other pilots, destroyed 20 locomotives, 25 railcars, 17 trucks, and six barges in the strafing attacks.
While on a combat mission with two other fighters to strafe an airdrome in Hanau, Germany on November 18th, 1944, enemy aircraft engaged. Lieutenant Davis reported downing his first enemy plane, an FW 190, with the pilot bailing out. Davis reported his second kill in February of 1945 when he downed a German ME-109. Davis reported, “It was the hottest fight I’ve been in.” With two kills down Davis needed three more to become a fighter ace.
1st Lieutenant Davis left Britain for the United States in April of 1945. What was supposed to be only a few months of leave turned out to be permanent when V-E Day came only a month later. After arriving home, he spoke with a journalism class on his experiences of the war. He believed that the United States’ advantage lay in the fast thinking and good training of its pilots. Even though Davis was home in the United States, this was not the end of his military career.
Davis entered the Korean war with the 12th fighter squadron and the 18th fighter-bomber group at the onset of the war. He was stationed in Pusan airbase in South Korea flying F-51 Mustangs. Just a few months into the war on October 5th, 1950, 1st Lieutenant Davis departed Pusan air base as the flight leader in a two-plane armed reconnaissance mission over North Korea. Over Sunchon, North Korea, Lieutenant Davis's plane was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire. Davis tried to turn back and reach the safety of South Korea, but he was not able to fly that far. Davis was forced to land his aircraft on a sandbar in the Taedong river. He was seen getting out of his plane and waving to the pilot of the other plane in his sortie before walking into the hills east of the river, that was the last time that Davis was seen. Because of the heavy enemy presence in the area search and rescue operations were not a possibility. While designated as missing in action Lieutenant Davis was promoted to the rank of Captain.
After the war no prisoners of war who returned had seen or heard about Captain Davis being captured or held anywhere and no remains that were returned to the United States after the ceasefire matched the description of Captain Davis.
Captain Ramon Roderick Davis remains one of over 7,600 Americans who are still unaccounted for from the Korean War. While we will probably never know what happened in the death of Captain Davis, we do know about the life of this Iowa State veteran who served his country with distinction in two wars and on two continents.