BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — And now a story of not only service to one’s country but of persistence in making sure families of veterans are honored as well, even three-quarters of a century later.
It is the story of James Hubert Davis of Oildale, a survivor in quadruplicate. The World War II veteran survived four ordeals over a four-year period, any one of which very well might have killed him. And for his service, his government gave him a medal recognizing the hardships of having been a Prisoner of War.
Somehow in the intervening 75 years that medal was lost. On Veterans Day, it went home. The trip was a convoluted one.
“The medal was found in an estate sale and it ended up here at the gallery,” said Ed Gaede of Portrait of a Warrior Gallery, a museum of sorts that recognizes fallen local military. “Karen Galyan, a Gold Star mother, found the family.”
Davis survived the Pacific Theater Battle of Corregidor, the Bataan Death March, hellish transport in a POW ship to Japan, and finally, in a POW camp near Hiroshima, the atomic bombing of that city. He died at the age of 57.
On Thursday, the medal was returned to its rightful place — the family of James Hubert Davis. Specifically, great niece Tia Gardner of San Bernardino. Ten members of her family drove up to Bakersfield in four cars for the brief sidewalk ceremony, family members between the ages of 1 and 59.
“It’s overwhelming that so many people who don’t know me from a man in Timbuktu have done so much work, and such hard work, digging into his history, and whatever it took to find us,” said Gardner, after receiving the medal from Galyan. “It’s just … In today’s world, people don’t do that for each other, right? And a lot of people have done that.”
Gardner says she believes Davis, her grandmother’s brother, may have three sons out there somewhere, and if she can find one of them, she’ll pass along the medal to what she says is a more rightful home.
Until then, her family will keep and honor the sacrifice of a veteran who gave so much, James Hubert Davis.
Watch the full ceremony here: