WWI hero to be remembered with tree planting

WWI hero to be remembered with tree planting
Private Herman Davis was a decorated sniper of WWI. (Source: Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture)
The Herman Davis Memorial State Park is located on Hwy. 18. (Source: Herman Davis American Legion Post 197)
The Herman Davis Memorial State Park is located on Hwy. 18. (Source: Herman Davis American Legion Post 197)
Donna Jackson and Greg Roll appeared on Mid-Day to promote the Herman Davis tree planting project. (Source: KAIT-TV)
Donna Jackson and Greg Roll appeared on Mid-Day to promote the Herman Davis tree planting project. (Source: KAIT-TV)

Hundreds of people drive past the memorial of Herman Davis, a scout and legendary sharpshooter, every day on Highway 18.

The Manila native was the only Arkansan on General John J. Pershing's list of 100 Greatest Heroes of the World War. He was honored for his heroic actions on the battlefield – most notably the taking of several German machine gun nests.

"He was extremely courageous and he was our Manila hero," Greg Roll, historian of the Herman Davis American Legion Post in Manila, said. "He really is." Roll, along with Dorothy Jackson, director of the Manila Depot Museum, and with the help of Lowell Walters, director of the Mississippi County Library System, have collaborated to get the World War I Memorial Tree Project to plant a tree in Davis' memory.

The tree planting will take place at the Herman Davis State Park on Sunday, March 4 at 2 p.m. 

"Mr. Walters, he actually got Manila chosen for the tree," Donna Jackson said. "Each county in Arkansas was awarded one tree for filling out the form. He is the one that spearheaded that. He is going to speak. Greg, as the post historian is going to speak and our State Senator Dave Wallace is going to speak."

Davis was honored for his heroic actions on the battlefield during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Davis received the Distinguished Service Cross, Croix de Guere, and Medaille Militaire awards from the American and French governments.

"I was able to get Capt. Scott Campbell and the Sgt. Major from the 29th Division, which was Herman’s old Division. They’re flying in from Fort Belvoir, Virginia to be a part of this celebration as well," Roll said. "It has been a labor of love. We've been working on it for four months now."

Soil from the Meuse-Argonne National Cemetery in France will be added to the Park’s ground when the willow oak is planted.

The planting ceremony is being co-coordinated by the Mississippi County Library System, the Manila Depot Museum, and members of Manila’s American Legion Post 197. The purpose of the tree planting project is to encourage Arkansans to plant trees to remember the 71,862 Arkansans who served during the Great War, including the 2,183 who died while in service. 

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