New law would aid Davis children

By Bob Robinson


   The first Tennessee soldier killed in combat in the Vietnam War, ironically, was also named Davis. Spc. 1st Class James Thomas "Tom" Davis, age 25, of Livingston, a member of the Army Security Unit, was killed in combat on Dec. 22, 1962.
   Davis was in a truck with 10 Vietnamese soldiers when the truck ran over a mine which exploded. Davis and the driver were uninjured.
   "As the two walked up the road, 50 yards from the truck, they were killed in an ambush," according to his brother, Bill Davis, retired banker from Livingston.
   State Sen. Rusty Crowe, chairman of the Joint Senate-House Select Committee on Veterans Affairs, said the first thing that struck him when he heard the news about Jefferson Donald Davis of Watauga was the name. "I couldn't believe it was another Davis," he said.
   "Our hearts and prayers go out to him and his family. Donnie cared more about liberty and freedom than he did his own life. We have seen this repeated down through the years. They are our heroes," Sen. Crowe said.
   The Tennessee General Assembly, upon the recommendation of the Joint Select Committee on Veterans Affairs, recently passed legislation to provide free college tuition for children of Tennessee servicemen killed in combat. "That legislation seems more meaningful now than when it was passed. Hopefully, it will fill a void created by Donnie's untimely death," Crowe said.
   State Rep. Ralph Cole of Elizabethton, a member of the Joint Select Veterans Affairs Committee, said, "When the legislation was passed, it was our hope that it would never have to be used."
   A flag flown over the Tennessee Capitol and a copy of the resolution adopted by the state Senate will be presented to the Davis family.
   Cole said, "My family and I are extremely saddened, as are all Carter Countians and Americans, with the death of Master Sgt. Donald Davis. One of my children attended Elizabethton High School with Donnie and spoke highly of his capabilities and kindness."
   Funeral services for Davis, A Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces, will be conducted in Clarksville. The body will be returned to Elizabethton for services and interment. Tetrick Funeral Home of Elizabethton (, or 542-2232) is in charge of arrangements.