Barrie Davis was born the son of a Baptist preacher in a
small North Carolina town in 1923. As a 17-year-old sophomore
at Wake Forest, he learned that his older brother, a career
Army officer, was killed in the Philippines fighting the
Japanese. Davis finished the semester and dropped out of
college to enlist in the Army Air Corps.
He began training as an Aviation Cadet in January 1943,
flying in the PT-13 Stearman, the BT-13 Valiant and the AT-6
Texan. At 19, he was commissioned and received his wings
in Dothan, Alabama in August 1943.
After completing fighter training at Ft. Myers, Florida
in the P-47 Thunderbolt, he crossed the Atlantic and headed
to war. He flew his first missions with the Mediterranean
Air Transport, ferrying fighters from Africa to Italy. This
give Davis broad experience with aircraft such as the P-39,
P-47 and the B-25.
In May 1944, he was ordered to join the 325th Fighter Group — the
Checkertails — where he was delighted to see the familiar
Thunderbolts on the flight line. After seven missions, the
325th was equipped with P-51 Mustangs, which they flew out
of the Soviet Union on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
Davis ended his tour as a flight leader, credited with six
air victories and six aircraft and 12 locomotives destroyed
on the ground. After 70 missions, his decorations include
the Silver Star, the Air Medal with 13 Oak Leaf Clusters
and the Purple Heart.
Returning to the US, Davis flew the armor-plated RP-63 Kingcobra
as a target for gunnery students in Nevada. He remained in
the Air Corps Reserve until 1949, when he joined the North
Carolina Army National Guard, an assignment that started
as a one-year engagement that he would keep for 27 years.
During his guard service, he became an Army Aviator, completing
helicopter training in Ft. Rucker, Alabama. He also commanded
an artillery battery, an aviation company, an aviation battalion,
a division of artillery and a support group. He finished
his army Guard career as Commandant of the North Carolina
Military Academy with the rank of Colonel.
In civilian life, Davis was a newspaper and magazine
editor and operated a commercial printing business for over