The Methodist Men met Saturday morning at the Hartman Village Club House. The opening prayer was “The Navy Hymn” sung by Bill Campbell.
The program was the viewing of “The Way It Was” with Wade Davis. Interviewed by Jim Steele in 2014, and produced and directed by Wayne Lammers, this living history of the life of Davis, especially his World War II days, will be treasured by future generations.
Davis was born at St. Joseph Hospital in Boonville in 1921. He went to school at Central School, Boonville High School, and then Kemper.
His enlistment was hard on his mother. Davis’s father had died a few months earlier. He was only 17 at the time, so his mother had to sign for him to enlist. She didn’t like it, but she did it. He enlisted in Kansas City and, when he was called up shortly after that, he went to Warrensburg. This was before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Davis was introduced to aviation and thought it was something he might be interested in. Then came the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
“I knew I didn’t want the infantry,” Davis said, “so I asked for aviation.”
His training took him to Kansas, Iowa, Florida, and California.
When he got through all that, he was assigned to the USS Kitkun Bay and headed to Guam.
“We were in the area when the USS Indianapolis was hit and sunk, but we didn’t know about it at the time.”
When the war was over, they came across a POW camp.
“We had no idea it was there.”
We rescued thousands of Australians. They had been working in the coal mines. Some of them were so sick they really didn’t know what was happening, but the others were so grateful.
When the USS Kitkun Bay started back to the states, they got hit. At first, they thought they were under attack, but it was a typhoon. The storm was so bad that it was pushing the USS Missouri with four anchors down. They had to head out to sea and wait it out.
When they got back to California, they were given leave and told that any time in the next 30 days to pick up their orders.
“After 60 days, me and a couple of buddies decided we probably ought to go pick up our orders.”
No body said anything to them and they went on to catch the train back to KC.
Davis laughed about the train trip. He and another lieutenant, a female, were assigned to share a compartment on the trip back to KC. The MPs didn’t think that would work, so they moved her, and he ended up with the compartment all to himself.
Back home, his mother had kept the farm running thanks to the help of others, but Davis took that over when he returned home. They sold the farm in 1973. From 1973-1985 he was a real estate agent working out of Columbia. They didn’t like houses but sold mostly farms.
It was in 1985 that he became Public Administrator and served the people of Cooper County for the next 23 years.
His wife Gwyneth is deceased, and he has two children and two grandsons.
In 2012, Davis was able to take the Honor Flight to Washington, DC.
Following the presentation, Captain Tom Maxwell (USN retired) read the remarks spoken at the January 11th Change of Command for Vice Admiral Shoemaker, the Senior Naval Aviator in the Navy.
“We are Naval Aviators. We are a critical part of the Navy Team. Naval Aviators stand on the shoulders of giants who preceded us, like Wade. Naval Aviators are true military professionals. They are courageous, disciplined and accountable. They serve with integrity and they lead with humility and compassion. Naval Aviators excel in the air and they make a difference in the world. They fly, they fight, they lead, and they win. Wade, thanks for your service to our country and, Wayne, thanks for documenting the exploits of a true Boonville hero.”