b. 27/04/1916 El Paso, Texas. d. 26/01/2002 Vista, California.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 28/05/1944 Artena, Italy.
Davila was born to a Spanish father and a Filipino mother in El Paso, Texas. His family moved to Watts, California when he was a child. There he was raised and received his primary and secondary education. Davila enlisted in the Army from Los Angeles in March 1941.
Davila was a United States Army Staff Sergeant assigned to Company H of the 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. On May 28, 1944, his company was involved in an offensive, near Artena, Italy, which broke through the German mountain strongholds surrounding the Anzio beachhead. His company was under a heavy enemy attack and for an unknown reason his machine gunners were reluctant to risk putting their guns into action. Realizing that his company was in danger, Davila crawled 50 yards to the nearest machine gun and fired over 750 rounds into the enemy strongholds in the foothills.
His fellow machine gunners reacted and Davila directed their firepower with hand and arm signals until the two enemy hostile machine guns were silenced. Despite being wounded by the enemy, he continued his assault by engaging the enemy from the turret of a burnt tank.
Davila then spotted what he believed to be a rifle barrel in a farmhouse window. He grabbed a rifle and two grenades and went inside the farmhouse. He tossed the grenades at the attic and shot at the troops inside, destroying two more enemy machine gun nests. The enemy was forced to abandon their prepared positions.
Davila received a battlefield commission to Lieutenant and even though a Captain in the rifle company said he would recommend Davila for the Medal of Honor, the highest honor for battlefield valor, Davila was instead awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army’s second highest military honor.
Davila continued to serve with his company after he recovered from his leg wound. A few months after the Artena attack, Davila found himself in France’s Vosges Mountains. He received a chest wound from a shell which ricocheted off a tree as he was ordering his men to storm a German tank. The tank shell caused injuries that left his right arm paralyzed.
In 1996, Hawaii Senator Daniel Akaka secured a Congressionally mandated review of records for Asian-Americans who had earned the Distinguished Service Cross in World War II. Congress reviewed the records to determine whether they were unfairly denied the military’s highest award for valor.
On June 21, 2000, President Bill Clinton, bestowed the Medal of Honor on Davila and 21 other World War II servicemen of Asian descent at a White House ceremony. Only seven of 22 recipients were still alive when the medals were handed out. Previously only two of the 40,000-plus Asian-Americans who served in World War II had been awarded the Medal of Honor.
Staff Sergeant Rudolph B. Davila distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action, on 28 May 1944, near Artena, Italy. During the offensive which broke through the German mountain strongholds surrounding the Anzio beachhead, Staff Sergeant Davila risked death to provide heavy weapons support for a beleaguered rifle company. Caught on an exposed hillside by heavy, grazing fire from a well-entrenched German force, his machine gunners were reluctant to risk putting their guns into action. Crawling fifty yards to the nearest machine gun, Staff Sergeant Davila set it up alone and opened fire on the enemy. In order to observe the effect of his fire, Sergeant Davila fired from the kneeling position, ignoring the enemy fire that struck the tripod and passed between his legs. Ordering a gunner to take over, he crawled forward to a vantage point and directed the firefight with hand and arm signals until both hostile machine guns were silenced. Bringing his three remaining machine guns into action, he drove the enemy to a reserve position two hundred yards to the rear. When he received a painful wound in the leg, he dashed to a burned tank and, despite the crash of bullets on the hull, engaged a second enemy force from the tank’s turret. Dismounting, he advanced 130 yards in short rushes, crawled 20 yards and charged into an enemy-held house to eliminate the defending force of five with a hand grenade and rifle fire. Climbing to the attic, he straddled a large shell hole in the wall and opened fire on the enemy. Although the walls of the house were crumbling, he continued to fire until he had destroyed two more machine guns. His intrepid actions brought desperately needed heavy weapons support to a hard-pressed rifle company and silenced four machine gunners, which forced the enemy to abandon their prepared positions.
BURIAL LOCATION: ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA.
SECTION 67 SITE 3457
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.