By now we know everyone hs seen Forrest Gump, unless you are being held at GITMO and even then probably. You know how the simple-minded Forrest Gump, played by Tom Hanks, faced and overcame all tribulations throughout his life. He finished college, joined the army, received the medal of honor, became an Olympic ping pong superstar, created a giant shrimp fishing business, created the jogging craze, donated vast sums to charity, and eventually married the love of his life only to see her die. And the scene when he was awarded the medal? That was actually the real-life Forrest Gump.

Meet Sammy L. Davis

Sammy L. Davis. Photo; Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Born on November 1, 1946, Sammy was born to a long tradition of military service in his family. His grandfather, father, and two brothers all served in the army. He was a member of the football and diving teams during his high school years at Manteca High School.

In 1965, expectedly, Sammy enlisted in the United States Army directly after high school. He volunteered for the artillery, inspired by his father, an artilleryman during World War II. So, he was assigned to the 4th Artillery Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division.

Now here’s the Forrest Gump Part

Sammy was sent to Vietnam right after his training. While there, somewhere in the west of Cai Lay, his unit came under withering machine gunfire and heavy mortar fire. Sammy’s team was assaulted by a reinforced battalion of Viet Cong. With nothing but a narrow river separating them from the 4th Artillery troops, Sammy did not hesitate and took over a machine gun to give cover fire for his gun crew. He ignored an order to take cover, and instead took over their already burning howitzer to continue firing. A recoilless rifle round slammed into his howitzer and knocked him unconscious into a foxhole. He lay unconscious for a while, wounded on the back and buttocks. When he regained consciousness, he fired at least one more round of their already damaged howitzer point-blank at the Viet Cong who were advancing towards them. The eight-thousand beehive darts from this antipersonnel round cut them down. When he ran out of conventional rounds, Sammy fired a white phosphorus shell into the enemy and even a propaganda shell filled with leaflets(which no doubt caused severe paper-cuts).  Because of the hit from the recoilless rifle, the howitzer was dislodged from its anchors and every time Sammy fired the gun it would jump backward knocking him to the ground.

In spite of his wounds and an inability to swim, he then crossed the river using an air mattress to reach three wounded troops. There, he found three wounded soldiers suffering from injuries including what should have been a fatal head wound. Sammy suppressed the enemy with his rifle, gave them all a shot of morphine, and got them back across the river to safety before he once again rejoined the fight, this time with another gun crew on a working gun. He would refuse all medical attention until the Viet Cong force, badly mangled was driven off.

As he was recovering in the hospital, he learned that he would be sent home. He wasn’t ready to go home yet, so he petitioned General William Westmoreland to be allowed to stay with his unit, which was granted. Although, he was made a cook instead since his wounds did not let him return to the battlefield.

Medal of Honor Scene

Sammy did not become a ping-pong superstar, nor did he start a shrimping business like Forrest Gump. However, he did receive the Medal of Honor from President Lyndon Johnson on November 19, 1968, exactly one year and one day after the battle in Cai Lay.

But here is the real reason that Sammy Davis is the real life Forrest Gump, in the movie they used White House footage of Sammy receiving the Medal of Honor from President Johnson and replaced his head with Tom Hank’s. Check it out:

Congressional Medal of Honor being awarded to Sergeant Sammy L. Davis:

Forrest Gump being awarded the Medal of Honor:

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