September 6th, 1967, 45 years ago to the day, Sgt. Rodney Maxwell Davis gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Fighting the War in Vietnam, Davis earned the Medal of Honor for giving his own life for fellow Marines. According to his official citation, "when an enemy grenade landed in the trench in the midst of his men, Sergeant Davis, realizing the gravity of the situation, and in a final valiant act of complete self-sacrifice, instantly threw himself upon the grenade, absorbing with his own body the full and terrific force of the explosion."
Rodney's younger brother Howard, who just graduated high school at the time, remembers the day vividly. "All I was thinking about was good times and life ahead and then when I got the news of him passing, and I could think of nothing more than life was over and mine was almost beginning."
Howard then recalled going with his family to Washington, D.C. to receive the posthumous medal from President Lyndon B. Johnson, a moment he says "will always stick with you." To this day, he still remembers LBJ's words to him -- "from a grateful nation, and a very supportive president, it was something he hoped we received well."
But before his Medal of Honor, Davis grew up in a house on Neal Avenue in Pleasant Hill in Macon, where his brother still lives with his family. Howard says Rodney's nickname around the neighborhood was "Bully," not because he bullied others, but because he was always willing to stick up for his family and friends.
And when he did the same for his fellow Marines, he became the only ever resident of Macon to win the high honor. Since then, Davis has been honored with a plaque across from City Hall, a portait in the Mayor's office, and a naval vessel called the U.S.S. Rodney M. Davis, which is still in comission. He also recently had an interchange of I-75 and I-475 in south Bibb County named after him.
Now, some of his fellow Marines raised more than $75,000 to build a 14-foot tall monument at the Linwood Cemetery where he is buried. Since the cemetery faces I-75, motorists will be able to see is visibly from the road, and be reminded of his sacrifice, or in his brother's words, "doing what Rodney does."