Donald C. Davis
|Birth name||Donald Cooke Davis|
|Born||January 24, 1921|
New Boston, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||July 30, 1998 (aged 77)|
La Jolla, California, U.S.
|Service/||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1943–1981|
|Commands held||U.S. Pacific Fleet|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Relations||Elaine Margaret Davis (wife)|
Early life and education
Donald Cooke Davis was born on January 24, 1921, in New Boston, Missouri, the son of Randal N. and Alice Isabelle Cooke Davis. He graduated in 1938 from Brookfield High School. Following his high school graduation, he attended the University of Missouri-Columbia while awaiting his appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. He was admitted to the Academy to graduate in the Class of 1944 but, due to World War II, he graduated on 9 June 1943 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Engineering and was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy. In 1960, Davis entered the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. While at Newport, he completed the Senior Course in Naval Warfare.
During World War II, Davis served aboard the USS Mobile in the Pacific Theater, which participated in nine major campaigns. He qualified as a Naval Aviator in May 1946 and then served in several carrier-based fighter squadrons, including VF-51, the Navy's first operational jet squadron.
At the start of the Korean War, Davis' squadron, aboard the USS Leyte, was sent from the Mediterranean to Korea. Here he flew 51 combat missions and was awarded two Air Medals. In 1952, Davis was ordered to Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, Nevada. Here, he helped train Air Force F-86 pilots on lessons learned while flying missions in Korea. Following his assignment with the Air Force, Davis became Commanding Officer of Fighter Squadron Two Hundred Eleven (VF-211) in 1957 and made Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployments aboard the USS Midway and the USS Bon Homme Richard.
During the years 1964–66, Davis served as the Senior Navy Project Officer for the F-111 (TFX) aircraft in the Air Force Systems Command. Davis was the first Naval Aviator to fly a F-111. He also received the Legion of Merit in the development of the aircraft.
On 3 June 1966, Davis assumed command of the USS Montrose (APA-212) which recently participated in numerous amphibious operations off the coast of Vietnam. He then commanded the USS Kitty Hawk and Task Force 77 from 28 August 1967 to 30 September 1968.
Role in Apollo 11 success
In November 2016, a report re-emerged that credited Davis with being a significant part of the success of Apollo 11. (The story had first emerged in 2004.) Just days before the mission was to launch, Captain Willard S. "Sam" Houston Jr. took command of the Pacific Fleet Weather Centre, Hawaii. He took immediate interest in the mission's splashdown position, and took the initiative to seek out data from the top secret Corona satellite station. Houston was warned by the Corona station commander, Major Hank Branli, that the intended splashdown area would be subject to a gathering storm. Without revealing the Corona source, Houston took this information to the commander of the recovery fleet, Davis, and convinced him of the need to change the recovery site. Davis ordered the fleet to change position, and together they then convinced NASA of the need to change the landing area. The U.S. Navy flew an aircraft over the original site during the landing, and found a major storm which would have been disastrous for Apollo 11.
Davis and his wife, the former Elaine Mcauvic, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, moved to Coronado, California, with their daughter, Aditha. Davis died of a heart attack on July 30, 1998, in La Jolla, California. He was buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California.
- Donald Cooke Davis, MilitaryHallOf Honor.com, accessed 15 November 2016
- Hall of Valor - Donald C. Davis, accessed 15 November 2016
- Adm Donald Cooke Davis, Find a Grave, accessed 15 November 2016
- That time my grandad saved Neil Armstrong's life, Katie Mack, ABC News Online, 15 November 2016
- Saving Apollo 11, Barbara Honegger, Navy Postgraduate School, "Domain" Fall 2004, accessed 15 November 2016
- Anonymous. "Admiral Donald Cooke Davis - Brookfield, MO". Linn County Leader. Retrieved 2012-03-09.[permanent dead link]
- "ProQuest Archiver: Titles".[dead link]