A Soldier's Story: Brigadier General Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr.

General Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr. was born on July 1, 1877, in Washington, DC. He enlisted (against his parents' wishes) during the Spanish-American war in 1889 as a 1st Lieutenant but mustered out shortly after.

General Benjamin O Davis Sr. re-enlisted as a Private in June 1899 into the 9th Calvary (The Buffalo Soldiers) and was assigned to the western frontier. With Colonel (then Lieutenant Charles Young's tutoring, he passed the Officers Candidate test in 1901 and was commissioned as 2nd lieutenant

General Benjamin O. Davis Sr. served again with the 9th Calvary during the Philippine insurrection in 1902 when the 9th Calvary was deployed to Liberia in 1911/12 and patrolling the Mexico/US border in 1912.

He returned with the 9th Calvary to the Philippines from 1917-1920.

Between the gaps of his deployments with the 9th Calvary, he taught Military Science and Tactics at Wilberforce University and Tuskegee University.

General Benjamin O. Davis Sr. had the honor of escorting WWI Gold Star Mothers and Widows to the burial places of their soldiers during the summers of 1930-1933.

In 1938 he was assigned to the 369th infantry. He was appointed General on October 25, 1940, by President Roosevelt, becoming the first American of African descent to achieve that rank in any US Military branch.

General Benjamin Oliver Davis Sr. was assigned to the Office of the Inspector General as an advisor to African-American military policies. His inspections during the European Theater were influential in military troop integration.

On July 20, 1948, General Benjamin O. Davis Sr. retired after a 50-year military career, with President Harry S Truman presiding over his public retirement ceremony.

He received the Distinguished Service Medal and the Bronze Star during his military career.

After retirement, General Benjamin O Davis served as an American Battle Monuments Commission member from 1953 to 1961.

General Benjamin O Davis Jr., who died November 26, 1970, is buried in Arlington Cemetery.


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

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