Military career Edit
Davison was born in 1917 in San Francisco, California into a military family. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1939 receiving his commission in the cavalry. His first posting was at Fort Brown, Texas with the 12th Cavalry Regiment.
During World War II, Davison was assigned to Operations Division, War Department General Staff Theater Group, and later reassigned to the 45th Infantry Division in North Africa as Assistant G-2. He remained with the division in Sicily and Italy, to include taking part in the Anzio invasion. At the age of 26, he was chosen to command a battalion, the 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment. Four months later he was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and he remained commander of the battalion throughout the Italian campaign and the invasion of southern France. During his time with the division he was wounded twice. Towards the end of the war he served as G-2 and G-3 (Operations) at Headquarters, VI Corps.
After the war, then-Colonel Davison was assigned to the Plans Section, Headquarters Army Ground Forces at Fort Monroe, and later took command of the 18th Mechanized Cavalry Squadron stationed in Puerto Rico. He received a master's degree in Public Administration from Harvard University in 1951, and following a stint in the Office, Chief of Legislative Liaison, he was assigned to his alma mater as Commander, First Regiment, United States Corps of Cadets in 1954.
In 1958 he graduated from the National War College in 1958, and subsequently served as Chief, Combat Materiel Division, Office, Chief of Research and Development until 1960. He was then chosen to command Combat Command A, 3rd Armored Division, and was later promoted to brigadier general and assigned as Chief of Staff, V Corps. He once again returned to West Point to become the 51st Commandant of Cadets at West Point in 1963.
He next was assigned as Commandant of the Command and General Staff College, followed by promotion to lieutenant general in 1968, and appointment as Commander-in-Chief,U.S. Army Pacific, and subsequently as Chief of Staff for Commander-in-Chief, United States Pacific Command. In 1970, he assumed command of II Field Force, Vietnam, and was responsible for conducting the Cambodian Campaign.
In May 1971, he was promoted to General and assigned as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Army Europe, and concurrently as Commander, Central Army Group, NATO. During his tenure he placed emphasis on race relations and equal opportunity. Because of these efforts, he was awarded the NAACP Meritorious Service Award in 1976. The citation reads:
Davison retired from the Army in 1975.
Post military Edit
After retiring from the Army, Davison held various positions in the civilian sector, to include President of the United Service Organizations, Vice President of Joseph R. Loring Associates, an architectural engineering firm, a board member of Mercedes-Benz of North America, Vice Chairman of the Army and Air Force Mutual Aid Association, President of Shannon Enterprises, member of the Advisory Board of the International Security Council, and Board of Trustees of the Association of Graduates, United States Military Academy, and later its president from 1983 to 1989.
Davison was also responsible for ending the bitter in-fighting over what would constitute the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It was Davison in January 1982 who suggested the inclusion of a statue, The Three Soldiers, as compromise between parties arguing over whether the memorial would be Maya Lin's black granite wall or a more traditional heroic memorial. Jan Scruggs, president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, said "He was a think-out-of-the-box kind of guy. He was also very smart. He waited until the end of the day, when everybody was very tired, before he made his suggestion."
Davison died on September 7, 2006. He was survived by his second wife, Helen Walker Davison, three children, one of whom, retired Lieutenant General Michael Shannon Davison, Jr., also achieved flag rank, 6 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Jean Miller Davison, who died in 1983, and a daughter who died in 1957.
Awards and decorations Edit
Davison's awards and decorations include the Army Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with "V" and oak leaf cluster, the Air Medal with eight oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster, the French Legion of Honor, the French Croix de Guerre; the German Grand Cross of Merit; the Bavarian Grand Cross of Merit; and the Royal Order of the King of Thailand, Knight First Class. He also received an honorary Doctor of Law from the University of Maryland, and was made an honorary citizen of Meximieux, France. He was the 1997 recipient of the Distinguished Graduate Award from the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy.