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James Buford Davis, Update – Part 2

James Buford Davis

New information from a new search on, and new information from military records have provided me with some new and updated information regarding James Buford Davis, the second bombardier of the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII. Davis was the crew’s replacement bombardier following the death of original crew bombardier Marvin Fryden.

To view my original post and other information about James Buford Davis, please see the links at the end of this post.

Continued from James Buford Davis, Update – Part 1

Return to the States

James Buford Davis arrived back in the States on 4 January 1945 from overseas combat duty as a bombardier, 6 months, 35 missions, B-17 combat experience in the ETO.

From 7 December 1944 to 15 May 1945, James Davis was assigned to AAFRS#4, 1040 AAFBU, SAAAB, Santa Ana, California, Return to US, leave and processing.

From February 1945 to May 1945, James Davis was hospitalized in Santa Ana due to combat fatigue. He was admitted on 21 February 1945.

In the doctor’s initial summary, he described James as,

Twenty-three year old bombardier on a B-17, 6 months overseas with the 8th Air Force, 35 missions completed. No wounds, injuries or serious illnesses while overseas. At present, feels nervous, tense, sweaty palms, loss of 15 pounds in weight, feels insecure.

James’ general appearance and condition on admission was,

Well developed, well nourished young adult male in no physical distress at the present time.

The doctor’s final diagnosis was,

Operational fatigue, mild, manifested by nervousness, restlessness, tension, sweaty palms, and loss of weight, 35 combat missions.

On 27 February 1945, James was transferred to the Convalescent Hospital Facility, Convalescent Hospital Division, AAF Regional Hospital, AAF Redistribution Station No. 4, at Santa Ana Army Air Base. The Transfer Diagnosis was “Suspected operational fatigue” with a Working Diagnosis or Impression of “Mild operational fatigue.” No “Contemplated laboratory tests or special examinations” were performed “at this station.”

Even though symptoms, including nervousness, tensions, and mild startle reactions, persisted, notes indicated “no major problem,” and “program satisfactory,” resulting in an eventual disposition on 7 or 9 May 1945 for a return to line of duty. Summary of Progress was “Uncomplicated.” Condition on completion of case: was “Recovered.” No details of what the “program” entailed were included.

Throughout the entire process, doctors noted James’ “tenseness and restlessness” was “more pronounced when in crowds.”

He slept fairly well, but “Occasional difficulty in sleeping persists with rare dreams. Program satisfactory, attendance good.”

Only one comment in the doctor’s notes indicated what was likely causing James’ “mild operational fatigue.”

Two of his crews were lost while Pt. [patient] was not flying with them. There is apparently some guilt reaction associated with the fact that the Pt. was not with his crew.

On 19 April 1945, James was described as, “Feels fairly well. Occasional lapses in feeling of security. CAA course completed.” Other comments were illegible.

By 27 April 1945, notes read, “Feels well – is ready for discharge as soon as restriction is lifted.” And by 4 May 1945, “Generally improving. To start illegible Monday.”

In the Request for Discharge, the Ward Officer noted that Davis’ condition was “Recovered” for Discharge to General Military Duty.

Today we refer to James’ “operational fatigue” as “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” and we know recovery can take years, not weeks, if ever.

On 7 May 1945, Germany surrendered to the western Allies at General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Headquarters in Reims, France. German Chief-of-Staff, General Alfred Jodl, signed the unconditional surrender, to take effect the following day.

On 8 May 1945, V-E (Victory in Europe) Day was declared as German troops continued to surrender to the Allies throughout Europe. However, World War II was still raging in the Pacific theater, and James was still an active duty airman who might be called upon in some capacity to help defeat the Japanese.

From 16 May 1945 to 14 July 1945, James Davis was assigned to MAAF, Midland, Texas, Student Officer, Bmbdr Refresher Course, AT-11, Norden.

On 23 May 1945, James was assigned to 2528 AAFBU, AAFld, Midland, Texas (CFTC).

On 4 June 1945, James Davis was assigned to Army Air Forces Instructors School (Bombardier). He attended from 4 June 1945 to 14 July 1945 and successfully completed the course of instruction with Class 615 Graduate. His overall academic rating as an instructor was Excellent and he ranked 35 in a class of 223.

From 15 July 1945 to 20 July 1945, James was assigned to MAAF, Midland, Texas, awaiting orders.

From 21 July 1945 to 17 October 1945, James was assigned to CAAF, Childress, Texas, Continuation Trainee.

In early August 1945, the United States Army Air Forces dropped atomic bombs on Japan, on Hiroshima on 6 August and on Nagasaki on 9 August. On 14 August, Japan agreed to an unconditional surrender. Surrender documents would not be signed until 2 September. Some consider the 14 August 1945 date to be V-J (Victory in Japan) Day, but others consider 2 September 1945, when the surrender document was signed, to be V-J Day.

During his time in Childress, on 26 August 1945, James B. Davis was suspended from all flying duties, grounded because about a week before, on 21 August, he fell while playing basketball at the Gym at the 2512th AAF BU (BS), CAAF, Childress, Texas, and injured his right knee. He received treatment in the hospital for sixteen days before his release on 11 September 1945 and return to flying duties.

On 22 October 1945, James Davis received his dated orders of separation, and relieved from Active Duty on 11 November 1945 at Amarillo AAF Texas.

On 23 October 1945, James Davis completed an “Application for Appointment and Statement of Preferences for Reserve Officers.” His application was for the Grade of 1st Lt., and Section was Air Corps.

Release from WWII Active Duty

James Buford Davis was relieved from active duty on 11 November 1945 at Amarillo Army Air Field Separation Base.

Military Record and Report of Separation/Certificate of Service

James Davis’ separation record listed his Military History,

  • His Grade was 1st Lt.
  • His Date of Entry into Active Service was 26 Feb 1944
  • His Date of Relief from Active Duty was 11 Nov 1945
  • Military Occupational Specialty and No. – Bombardier 1035
  • Battles and Campaigns – Northern France, Germany
  • Decorations and Citations – Air Medal w/5 OLC
  • Service Outside Continental U.S. and Return – listed below…
  • Wounds Received in Action – None
  • Total Length of Continental Service – 1 year, 2 months, and 10 days
  • Total Length of Foreign Service – 0 years, 6 months, and 3 days
  • Education (years) – Grammar School 8, High School 4, College 2
  • Reason and Authority for Separation – RR 1-5 cs TWX AFPMP 1097 Hq AAF TWX 40[illegible]-28539 Hq AAF TC 11 Sep 45
  • Service Schools Attended – Preflight Primary, Preflight Bombardier, Gunnery, Advanced Bombardier, Bombardier Refresher Course

Service Outside Continental U.S. and Return

  • Departure from U.S.
    • Date of Departure 1 Jul 44
    • Destination ETO
    • Date of Arrival 4 Jul 44
  • Departure from ETO
    • Date of Departure 26 Dec 44
    • Destination USA
    • Date of Arrival 4 Jan 45

James Davis’ Separation Qualification Record noted his

  • Date of entry into active service – 26 Feb 44
  • Date of separation 11 Nov 45
  • Place of separation AAF Sep Base #19. Amarillo, Texas

The Military Occupational Assignments noted,

  • 1 month, Grade Pvt., Military Occupational Specialty – 521 Basic Trng.
  • 25 months, Grade 1st Lt., Military Occupational Specialty – Bombardier 1035

The Summary of his Military Occupations noted,

  • BOMBARDIER: Flew as bombardier on B-17 crew. Has 6 1/2 mo. 275 hrs as a bombardier overseas for the period in the ETO. Has EAME Ribbon with 3 bronze stars, Air medal with 5 oak leaf clusters. Overseas service bars, and presidential citation.

James Davis’ Military Education noted,

    • Pre-flight – 3 1/2 mo. Studied subjects relating to air crew trng. including physics, math, weather, maps and charts and radio code.
    • Primary Pilot Trng. 1/2 mo. Flew single engine planes and studied subjects necessary for aircraft flying.
    • Aerial Gunnery. 1 1/2 mo. nomenclature and operation of (50 & 30) Cal machine guns. Operation and maintenance of all types turrets used in aircraft.
    • Advanced Bombardiering Trng. 4 1/2 mo. Theory of aerial bombardment operation and maintenance of Norden bombsight and bomb racks. Advanced studies in physics, math, meteorology, practice bombing and navigation missions. Pilotage, radio, and D/R navigation.
    • Bombardier, Refresher Course. 1 1/2 mo. Refresher course in bombardiering.

Civilian Education noted,

  • Highest grade completed – 2 yr College
  • Degrees or diploma – None
  • Year left school – 1942
  • Name and address of last school attended – Purdue Univ; Lafayette, Ind.
  • Major courses of study – Mechanical Engineering

Civilian Occupations noted,

  • Student

Medals and Decorations

During his military service with the 384th Bomb Group in World War II, James Buford Davis earned three bronze stars, an air medal with five oak leaf clusters, and a presidential (unit) citation. He was also awarded the EAME (European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign) Ribbon, WWII Victory Medal, and American Theater Ribbon.

Additionally, on 29 January 1944, while an Aviation Cadet, James Davis was recommended for the Good Conduct Medal and was approved on 14 February 1944.

Reserve Duty

James Buford Davis was tendered appointment in the Officers’ Reserve Corps, Army of the United States, effective 23 October 1945 and took the Oath of Office at AAAFld, Amarillo, Texas on that date.

James Davis transferred to the Department of the Air Force per Transfer Order 1, NME, 26 September 1947. As noted in a fact sheet from Evolution of the Department of the Air Force,

On September 26, 1947, by order of the Secretary of Defense, personnel of the Army Air Forces (AAF) were transferred from the Department of the Army (formerly the War Department) to the Department of the Air Force and established as the United States Air Force (USAF).

From the National Archives, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, online documents regarding the Korean War,

The Korean War began on 25 June 1950, when the Northern Korean People’s Army invaded South Korea in a coordinated general attack at several strategic points along the 38th parallel, the line dividing communist North Korea from the non-communist Republic of Korea in the south.

The United States entered the Korean War on 27 June 1950, just two days after it began. Concerned that the Soviet Union and Communist China might have encouraged the invasion, President Harry S. Truman committed United States air, ground, and naval forces to the combined United Nations forces assisting the Republic of Korea in its defense.

On 4 October 1950, James Davis wrote a letter to inquire about his status in the reserves, “as to the probability of my being called up for active duty & if so, how soon?” He continued,

I could better arrange my affairs if I knew whether or not I am to be called.

My 5 year enlistment in the reserves will be terminated in November [1950]. It is my understanding that all reserve enlistments have been frozen. Am I correct?

The official response to his inquiry noted, in part, that he was assigned to Hq and Hq Sq. Tenth Air Force (VRS), Selfridge Air Force Base, Michigan, and

Inasmuch as higher Headquarters allocates the quotas to be filled, this Headquarters is unable to advise you as to the exact date you will be recalled to active duty.

Higher Headquarters has directed that all commissions in the United States Air Force Reserve which would terminate on or subsequent to 27 July 1950, would automatically be extended indefinitely.

Note: VRS is “Volunteer Reserve Section.”

On 22 January 1951, James wrote again to ask about his Reserve Corps status and if he was to be called up, how soon.

The official response on this occasion was,

At this time you would not be ordered to active military service involuntarily except in a case where your military specialty could not be obtained through volunteer sources. All orders to active military service are based upon the immediate needs of the Air Force. In view of this no definite time can be set when you might be ordered to active military service. In the event your services can be utilized you will be promptly notified.

In an Air Force Reserve Inventory Questionnaire he completed on 14 October 1952, James Davis noted that his,

  • Employer was Allison – Div. of G.M.C., Indianapolis, Indiana.
  • Present position was Senior Clerk.
  • Duties: to initiate buys of component parts for turbo jet engine & to make any changes in purchase of parts to make material deviations when specified is not available.
  • College education was Purdue University, completed 4 years, graduated, BS degree in Science (date 2-49), major Business Administration.
  • Marital status was married with 2 dependents (wife and child).

Again, from the National Archives, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, online documents regarding the Korean War,

Acting on a campaign pledge, President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower went to Korea on December 2, 1952. After visiting the troops, their commanders and South Korean leaders, and receiving briefings on the military situation in Korea, Eisenhower concluded, “we could not stand forever on a static front and continue to accept casualties without any visible results. Small attacks on small hills would not end this war.” President Eisenhower sought an end to hostilities in Korea through a combination of diplomacy and military muscle-flexing.

On 1 April 1953, James Davis’ reserve status in the Air Force was terminated.

In a continuation of the previous excerpt from the National Archives,

On July 27, 1953, seven months after President Eisenhower’s inauguration as the 34th President of the United States, an armistice was signed, ending organized combat operations and leaving the Korean Peninsula divided much as it had been since the close of World War II at the 38th parallel.

Civilian Life After the War

After the war, James Davis continued his college education at Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana.

At the age of 27, James married Joan Joslyn McShirley (born 12 March 1925), daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert McShirley of Sulphur Springs, Indiana, on 21 August 1948 while a student at Purdue. James and Joan were married in her parents’ home.

James graduated from Purdue with a BS degree in Science with a major in Business Administration in February 1949.

The 1950 Federal Census reports that James B. and Joan J. Davis lived in a house on a farm of three or more acres and described as at “left on Hwy 81” in Rumsey, McLean County, Kentucky. James was 28 years old and Joan was 25. James’ occupation was farmer. In an undated military form I found at the NPRC, James noted his “Present civilian occupation” as Farming, managing 460 acre bottom land farm.” This was likely the same farm on which James and Joan lived in 1950.

James’ and Joan’s son, Sean Cameron Davis, was born 1 November 1951 in New Castle, Henry County, Indiana.

In 1967, James, Joan, and Sean lived in New Castle, Indiana, and Sean attended the same high school from which his father graduated in 1940, New Castle Chrysler High School.

On 10 January 1967, Sean Davis, James’ and Joan’s only child, died in Indianapolis, Indiana, at the age of fifteen, from a subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding into the space between the brain and skull) due to arteriovenous malformation (when arteries in the brain connect directly to nearby veins without having the normal small vessels, aka capillaries, between them).

On 2 September 1967, James Davis’ WWII crewmate and friend Chester Rybarczyk, who had become a firefighter in Toledo, Ohio after World War II, died at the age of 44 fighting a fire at a local tavern. A few years later, Chester Rybarczyk’s son Tony connected with James Davis and they stayed in touch, with James sharing memories of Tony’s dad with Tony.

On 20 December 2009, James Buford Davis died at the age of 88 at the Hooverwood Nursing Home in Indianapolis, Indiana. James’ cause of death was dementia with the contributing condition of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

According to James’ obituary as published in the Indianapolis Star, at one time James owned Express Auto Supply in Hobart, Indiana and later co-owned the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in New Castle.

James Davis was cremated at the Greater South Side Crematory in Greenwood, Indiana, with Wilson St. Pierre Funeral Service on Madison Avenue in Indianapolis in charge of arrangements.

On 29 December 2020, James’ wife, Joan McShirley Davis, died in Indianapolis, Indiana.


Previous post, James Buford Davis, Update – Part 1

Previous post, James B. Davis

Previous post, More Information About James B. Davis

James Davis’ Enlistment Record in the online National Archives (in the Reserve Corps records)

James Buford Davis’ Personnel Record courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group

MOS means Military Occupational Specialty

Previous post, Assigned Military Operational Specialties of the Buslee and Brodie Crews

Previous post, Timeline for Buslee Crewmembers and Substitutes, 544th Bomb Squadron

Evolution of the Department of the Air Force

National Archives, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, online documents regarding  the Korean War

Joan McShirley Davis Find a Grave memorial

Previous post, Chester Rybarczyk – After the War

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2023

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