Heroes Among Us: Billy Davis

Updated: Aug. 30, 2019 at 7:20 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PELHAM, Ga. (WALB) - Each month, WALB and Montlick and Associates spotlight an active duty man or woman, a veteran, or a fallen hero whose service for our country goes beyond the battleground.

This month, we meet Billy Davis. The former Pelham City Councilman and Navy veteran now serves as vice president for the Mitchell County Food Bank.

A couple days a week, he helps serve people in need.

But, his story doesn’t start there.

Billy Davis served in the U.S. Navy for more than 20 years.
Billy Davis served in the U.S. Navy for more than 20 years.

It started back in 1958 when he enlisted in the Navy.

“I know a lot of heroes. Being a hero, definitely not...I’m not a hero," Davis said.

In his more than 20 years in the service, he served in both the Vietnam War and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The retired sailor recalled one of the times his life was at risk.

"Ash Wednesday storm of 1962, I think that's right, off the coast of Virginia," Davis explained. "We were out there for several days in a superstorm, and almost sunk. It took the paint off the ship and all that."

Heroes Among Us: Billy Davis

"I'm not a hero:" Navy veteran and Pelham resident Billy Davis told me what most veterans I speak with do. They don't believe they're heroes. But it's the sacrifices that those who serve and have served our country made and continue to make that make each of them a hero in our eyes. Davis served in Vietnam and the Cuban Missile Crisis. He missed the births of all 3 of his children. He battled alcoholism. He turned his life over to God. He serves his community, helping found a food bank that feeds his neighbors in Pelham. And he does so even after a Parkinson's disease diagnosis. Davis exemplifies the term "hero" in my book. I'm honored to tell his story.

Posted by Emileigh Forrester WALB on Wednesday, August 28, 2019

While he’s nonchalant about his service to our country, his wife of more than 62 years, Margie, who he had to leave behind each time he deployed, is not.

“He was on a ship, but they always had pilots flying off that ship and everything. Several of the pilots were killed," Margie explained.

His sacrifice extended to his family.

“I have three children. I was always gone when the children were born," the veteran said.

In his 30s, though, he checked himself into rehab in Naples, Italy after struggling with alcohol.

“I felt like a drowning man going down for the third time," Davis explained. "I lay in my bunk at the hospital, and I said, ‘God, if you’re there, take me like I am because I can’t change.’”

“When he came back, he was a totally different person. I mean totally different," his wife said. “I don’t care who comes to him for a need. If they’ve got a need, he’s willing to help in any way that he can.”

Davis turns the attention, once again, to his faith in God.

“If I ever did anything good it came from God, so God has prompted my heart to do the right thing about most things," he explained.

Decades after the war, Davis is now in his 70s.

Almost 9 years ago, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease the same year his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.

But, it’s not slowing them down.

“Being able to get out and work and do. As long as he can do that...if he had to sit and just do, I think he would just shrivel up and just quit,” his wife said.

“Well if you’re heart’s in it, that’s what counts," the veteran said.

If you know a special military hero you want to nominate, click here.

Copyright 2019 WALB. All rights reserved.