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Augustine Davis

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Information about Augustine Davis

Profile image of Augustine Davis

Profession

Category:
MedicalMakers
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Pharmacist
Sailor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Beans
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
For heaven’s sakes!

Birthplace

Born:
11/19/1917
Birth Location:
LaGrange, Texas

Profession

Category:
MedicalMakers
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Pharmacist
Sailor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Beans
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
For heaven’s sakes!

Birthplace

Born:
11/19/1917
Birth Location:
LaGrange
See how Augustine Davis is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Augustine Davis, survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor and pioneering black pharmacist, was born on November 19, 1917, in LaGrange, Texas. His early years were spent helping his family with farm work. Aware of the lack of medical attention available to his family, Davis desired to become a doctor. When he graduated in 1936 from Taylor High School in Taylor, Texas, Davis needed money to attend college, but he was unable to find a working scholarship available for any of the black colleges.

To finance his college education, Davis enlisted in the U.S. Army’s segregated black 25th Infantry, which recruiters told him was the only armed black unit in the Army. After a three-year stint, he still needed tuition money, so he enlisted in the still-segregated U.S. Navy. The pay from the U.S. Navy was a little higher, though all black recruits were assigned special duty in the messman branch. However, Davis’ naval duty, which superseded special duty, was that of a gunner.

At daybreak, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese military launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Davis rushed to his gun as the enemy opened fire on the U.S.S. Breese. One plane flew so low that Davis could see the pilot’s face. His loaders never reached him, but somehow Davis loaded his gun and fired back, only to see planes disappear into clouds of smoke. His gun was the only one on the Breese to get into action, but Davis received no citations for valor. He went on to see combat duty in other pivotal engagements, including the Battle of Midway. Davis was placed in charge of a battery aboard the U.S.S. Essex, which consisted of four anti-aircraft machine guns, all manned by black men.

After the war, Davis attended Ohio State University and earned his B.S. degree in pre-medicine, then graduated from the Ohio State College of Pharmacy – one of few blacks to have done so. Davis retired after a long professional career. He has two daughters, six grandchildren and two siblings. He lived with his wife, Gwendolyn, in Montclair, New Jersey.

Davis passed away on July 5, 2014.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Augustine Davis interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Augustine Davis's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Augustine Davis describes his family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Augustine Davis describes his mother's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Augustine Davis recalls the racial climate of the La Grange, Texas of his youth
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Augustine Davis describes his family structure growing up
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Augustine Davis reflects on his youth in La Grange, Texas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Augustine Davis discusses the history of Native American/black relations in the U.S.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Augustine Davis reflects on his school life
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Augustine Davis recalls leaving home at age sixteen
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Augustine Davis recalls his false imprisonment in Katy, Texas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Augustine Davis describes his beginnings in the U.S. military
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Augustine Davis reviews his educational pursuits while in the U.S. military
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Augustine Davis recounts the bombing of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Augustine Davis gives examples of discrimination in the segregated U.S. Navy during the 1940s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Augustine Davis evaluates portrayals of World War II generals and admirals
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Augustine Davis talks about mispersceptions about blacks' roles in the Navy during World War II
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Augustine Davis recalls the destruction of the U.S. fleet at the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Augustine Davis shares memories of the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Augustine Davis explains the U.S. Navy's strategy after defeat at Pearl Harbor
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Augustine Davis reflects on his and other African Americans' military service in World War II
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Augustine Davis describes how a gun battery works
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Augustine Davis describes his experience in World War II's Battle of Midway, 1942
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Augustine Davis mentions Tokyo Rose
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Augustine Davis relates an unreported incident of an American cruiser sunk by friendly fire during World War II
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Augustine Davis illustrates how he and other black soldiers were not appreciated at home during World War II
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Augustine Davis illustrates racism aboard the U.S.S. Essex aircraft carrier
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Augustine Davis advocates for the acknowledgement of African American military service in World War II
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Augustine Davis describes his experince at Bates College after his discharge from the U.S. Navy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Augustine Davis recalls averting a frontal lobotomy while at a Veteran's hospital
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Augustine Davis describes his efforts to start life anew after leaving college and the military
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Augustine Davis talks about his return to college and obtaining his undergraduate degree from Ohio State
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Augustine Davis talks about the difficulty of getting into medical school after graduating from college
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Augustine Davis explains why he attended pharmacy school
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Augustine Davis recalls how he dealt with racism he encountered at Ohio State
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Augustine Davis describes the challenges he faced due to racial prejudice while working as a pharmacist
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Augustine Davis discusses the prevalence of racism in the United States
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Augustine Davis recognizes shortcomings in the mentoring of black youth
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Augustine Davis discusses his parents' responses to his success
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Augustine Davis describes how he would like to be remembered