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Mercersburg man pens memoir that highlights WWII service

The Herald-Mail - 5/30/2018

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Gregg Davis doesn't consider himself a hero, but others could understandably give him that moniker.

Davis documents his World War II service in the 89th Infantry Division, experiences at Ohrdurf labor camp, and battle wounds and recovery in his memoir titled "Battle Tested: Street Kid, Soldier, Teacher, Patriarch."

"I was just a soldier doing a job, not a hero," he said.

The memoir not only allowed Davis, 92, to chronicle his life, but also helped him work through emotions and memories that heightened after he retired from teaching at James Buchanan High School in Mercersburg.

He said he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder when he sought treatment at the Martinsburg (W.Va.) Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Davis and his wife, Mary Jane, continue to live in the Mercersburg house they bought decades ago.

Originally from Altoona, Pa., and drafted at age 18, Davis accepted a teaching job in the Tuscarora School District after graduating from Shippensburg (Pa.) University. He pursued a career in education after being discharged from the military.

A shadow box contributed by the James Buchanan High School Class of 1977 can be found in the school's library. It contains Davis' memorabilia, including his mess kit, dog tags, and replicas of his Purple Heart, Bronze Star and other medals.

Davis, who describes Ohrdurf's barracks in his writings, was shot in the arm in April 1945. He initially thought his arm was blown off, but reached for his hand and found it in place.

"When you're in combat and you're hit, you either call for God or you call for Mom. Most soldiers call for Mom," said Davis, who recalled later that he called for his mother.

Davis today has shrapnel in his shoulder and numbness in his hand and wrist. Still, he is glad that he diligently pursued physical therapy to avoid amputation and was cared for by a sharp medic on the battlefield.

"I heard him say to the captain: 'If I don't get the blood stopped, I'm going to lose him,'" Davis recalled, noting the medic used gauze to wrap the wound.

For all of the turmoil of wartime life and service, Davis has a few fond memories of that era detailed in his memoir. He enjoyed playing pranks on others, including the superior whom Davis surprised with a toad in his bed.

"Battle Tested" is available on Amazon.com and through other book sellers.

 
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