MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - He was killed in Vietnam almost 45 years ago, but comrades of Sgt. Rodney Davis are coming from around the U.S. with plans to set his legacy in stone
Randy Leedom journeyed all the way from Hillsboro, Oregon to visit Davis' grave. Though they weren't formally introduced, Leedom considers Sgt. Rodney Davis a true friend, because Davis sacrificed himself to save him in Vietnam.
Davis was from Macon, and he and Leedom served together in the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, fighting off the Viet Cong in the Que Son Valley. In a heat of the moment act of valor, Davis threw himself on a hand grenade to save his buddies.
"If it hadn't been for Sgt. Davis, I wouldn't be here, I wouldn't have two sons, I would not have a wife, and I would probably be nonexistant," says Leedom.
That's why Leedom and the 1/5 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Project are working to erect a monument at his grave in Macon's Linwood cemetery. It's a place where reverence has been replaced by road noise and where weeds cover the graves of heroes--heroes like Davis, World War I and II veterans, and a Buffalo Soldier.
"If folks would come here, and just walk around and take a look at some of the graves, and see some of the people who are buried here, they'd have to agree with me, this is really not just a Macon treasure, this is a national treasure," says Nick Warr, Past President and Chapter Treasurer of the 1/5 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Project.
The group has enlisted the help of local businesses, who are very eager to donate money to building the monument in Davis' honor. Just 5 years ago, a similar effort helped clean up the gravesite.
For the hero's surviving family, it's an effort that says a lot about Macon's respect for those who serve selflessly.
"When I think about my brother in particular, what I have to be careful about--to everybody else in the world he's a hero, but to me he was my little brother," says Sgt. Davis' brother, Gordon Davis. He visits his brother's grave often, but says Rodney's supreme sacrifice came as no surprise to him.
"The more I thought about him the more I came to grips with the fact that he was doing what he would have done for anybody he called his friend," says Davis.
For Leedom, the word 'friend' took on a whole new meaning that September day in Vietnam. "Semper Fidelis, it's always faithful," says Leedom. "When a Marine says Semper Fi, he means, always faithful."
Semper Fi-Two words that may not mean anything to some, but to a Marine, they can either mean a sacrifice-- or a second chance at life.
The 1/5 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Project plans to raise about $75,000 for both the monument
and a scholarship fund in Davis' name.