Fairmont World War II veteran uses experiences to educate

Asa Davison had dug a 4-by-4 foxhole on Biak, New Guinea. The foxhole was covered with air matting and had sandbags to protect it from mortar shells.

Davison had been in the foxhole for three or four hours.

“They just kept bombing, bombing and shooting stuff at us. All at once, in the evening, everything went silent,” Davison said. “I didn’t hear nothing.”

After waiting and waiting in the silence, Davison thought he would get out of the foxhole and see what he could see. Because he wanted to get the enemy bad.

“I looked around and I couldn’t see nothing,” Davison said, pointing across Fairmont to describe the distance. “I couldn’t see nobody move, not a thing.”

He was the only one out. Everyone else was in their hole.

“All at once something hit me — boom — knocked me down. I fell to the ground,” Davison said. “I was laying there and I thought I was I was losing my mind. I was the only one out in the open.”

Finally, he got up and made it back to his foxhole.

“I was hurting around my chest and around my back,” Davison said. “I was feeling on myself trying to see what was what.”

In his pocket, Davison had a Bible with a medal plate on it given to him by his mother.

“I reached and pulled the Bible out,” Davison said. “There was a big indentation on that Bible. I don’t know if it was shrapnel or a bullet or what. I never did find out.”

Davison’s Bible is now on display at the Mountaineer Military Museum in Weston.

He donated it last year.

Asa Davison’s journey began in June 1943 when he was drafted in while he was still a student at Dunbar High School.

Davison did his duty. He joined the Army as part of the infantry.

He was shipped to Alabama for basic training.

Then he was boarded onto a ship and shipped out for active duty.

When the soldiers boarded the ship, all the white soldiers were on the upper deck of the ship and all the black soldiers were on lower deck.

“We didn’t know they were up there and they didn’t know we were down there,” Davison said.

Davison was only 19 years old when he landed in Guadalcanal in the Pacific.

“I looked up in the sky and I said ‘I’ll never make it back to West Virginia,’” he said. “I looked up and they had just bombed Guadalcanal. The trees were shot out and the mud was a foot deep. Me coming from West Virginia, it was really depressing.”

Davison saw combat for the three years that he served.

Sometimes the bullets he was ducking were from the men in his camp.

Being a man of color in the service was tough, he said.

“We had two company commanders, one was a captain and the other was a first lieutenant, both from Georgia. They were so tough on us,” Davison said. “We couldn’t do nothing right.”

There were so many blacks in Davison’s group that they were split into two groups, Company A and Company B. Davison was assigned to Company B.

“We were right beside each other in the camp. They divided us up and said, ‘OK, you go on that side of the hill and you go on that side,” Davison recalled.

When they went out on parole the commanders had the two companies firing live rounds at each other.

The superiors found out they were firing on their own men, and stopped them right then.

The two commanders were then replaced by a first lieutenant and captain from Baltimore and they were black.

From Guadalcanal to New Guinea, from there he went to Biak, then to Leyte Island in the Philippines.

“We just went from island to island.” Davison said.

Davison had just landed on Leyte Island, and the group had just got its gear out and its beds set up when the call came down and that they were going to bomb the island in an hour.

“We got from here (Maple Avenue) to about Adams Street and everything went up in fire,” Davison said, using the area between the Fairmont streets to explain the distance. “We were lucky there.”

Throughout his time in the service, Davison learned the value of a high school diploma.

He learned this when one of his superiors asked if he would be his driver. Davison agreed.

He learned to drive the vehicle, and on about the third day of driving his superior asked him where he graduated.

“I told him I hadn’t graduated,” Davison said. “I told him I was drafted while I was still in high school.”

Three days later, Davison was no longer his driver.

“I learned right there that you don’t get anywhere without a diploma,” Davison said. “So when I got home, I went back to school and got my diploma.”

Davison now uses his life experiences to educate.

Paul McCue, another World War II veteran, Kip Price and Davison go to schools, churches and organizations to give presentations.

Davison and Price have gone as far as Beckley and Tamarack to give their presentation.

Price gives presentation on the World War II story “Wereth Eleven” and then he introduces the two World War II heros, Davison and McCue.

The movie “Wereth Eleven’s” executive producer, the late Joe Small, was nominated for an Emmy.

“Mr. Asa is such a treasure,” Price said. “The students just love him. There was one student at East Fairmont Junior High that asked if he could give him a hug. That’s just special.

“I have had a joy of spending time with them I?have spent as much time as possible. They are part of the greatest generation. It has been an honor and joy to spend time these World War II heros.”