Charles Allen Davis was born in Gallup, McKinley, New Mexico, on 17 Nov 1922. As a young child he was raised among the sacred lands of the Zuni and Navajo. His parents were from Ramah, New Mexico, just 45 miles south of Gallup on the fringes of the Zuni reservation.
|Shalako ceremony - Zuni Pueblo, circa 1920|
His family were some of the original settlers of Mormon pioneers who had relocated after first colonizing the Little Colorado River Valley of Arizona and Chihuahua Mexico. As a newly married couple Charles’ parents, Joy and Eulla Davis, operated a trading post at Zuni Pueblo.
|Charles Joy and Eulla Eliza Davis with their oldest child, Charles Allen Davis. Circa 1926.|
Gallup during Charles’ youth was the hub of activity. Route 66 was being constructed, and though not yet paved completely, the Mother Road – as it would be called – was bringing travelers and commerce to this isolated corner of western New Mexico. Charles would experience this activity first-hand working at the Whiting Brother gas station at 700 E Route 66. In addition to the increased commotion of travelers on their way across the country, the city was also the hub for the Indian community; it was the only town of any size close to the Navajo and Zuni peoples. Amidst this hustle and bustle, Gallup was still a rural town nestled among a striking landscape and a Land of Opportunity.
|Charles Davis (right) with an unknown co-worker at Whiting Brothers Gas Station #12.|
|Zuni Pueblo, circa 1922|
And so it was, at the dawn of the century, that young Charles Davis found himself in the shadows of the sacred mountains of the Diné, an accidental student of a future undertaking nobody would have ever imagined.
|Charles Allen Davis - High School graduation, May 1940.|
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Officers and men of the 2d Marines formed the nucleus of the newly activated regiment, Headquarters and Service Company and the 3d Battalion. On 1 March, the 1st Battalion was activated, the largest percentage of its men coming from the 3d Battalion, 6th Marines, recently returned from duty in Iceland. Regimental Weapons Company and the 2d Battalion were organized on 1 April, completing the regiment and increasing its strength to 99 officers and 3,003 enlisted men.
The first four days of September Charles and the other Marines from his regiment marched from Camp Elliott up the coast to the new Marine Corps Base at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside. Again the regiment engaged in intensive combat training, including two weeks of amphibious exercises in the San Diego‑Oceanside area, at which Charles excelled, possibly due in part to the time he spent hunting and exploring the wild surroundings of Gallup and Ramah as a young man. During training, and later during annual qualifications, Charles earned sharpshooter, expert, and marksman badges for Bayonet, Pistol-D (dismounted), SS-Pistol (.45 ACP), and Rifle. Following combat training he was transferred to Radio Company, Signal Battalion MCB (Marine Corps Base), as a student at radio operator school with a new MOS (Military Occupation Specialty).
After graduating from radio operator school Charles was assigned to Regimental Weapons Company, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. It is unknown what transpired between the late fall and early winter of 1942, but Charles seemed out of sorts. Charles had married before enlisting, and some speculation suggests that a strained relationship back home in Arizona might have provoked what was about to take place. On 23 December 1942 he was reprimanded for violating a Camp Special Order. He detained as a prisoner at large, and under Article 1 a Summary Court Martial was convened 23 December 1942. He was Sentenced to a loss of pay $27.00 per month for period of 3 months (Total Loss of Pay $81.00).
A few weeks later he was Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL) from 5:00 pm 9 January 1943 to 6:00 pm 10 January 1943, presumably returning late from a hasty visit back home. He was ordered to submit to 3 days of bread & water at his Operating Base by the Commanding Officer, 9th Marine Post. Such conduct, however, would be quickly forgotten and Charles would be awarded the Good Conduct Medal. 
Just weeks before the marines shipped overseas, Colonel Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., Commanding Officer of the 9th and later the 20th Commandant of the Marine Corps (1952‑1955) suggested the design for the unique "Striking Ninth" insignia. Although not authorized for a shoulder patch, it was generally accepted and remained the regimental insignia during World War II. "The emblem consists of a bald eagle with outstretched wings carrying three chain links in each claw, the motto 'Striking' on a ribbon running through a large figure nine and another ribbon lettered 'Ninth Marines' below the shield. The chain links typify the interlocked, interdependent battalions forming the backbone of the Regiment. The eagle itself and the flashing lightning represent the striking power of the regiment."
New Zealand / Guadalcanal
|SS Washington, converted to troop transport USS Mt. Vernon|
Jungle warfare training, several 60‑mile hikes, and practice in the seizure of a beachhead occupied the Marines time until they loaded aboard five transports on 29 June bound for Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Ten days before that departure Charles wrote the family telling them of the rainy weather they had been experiencing and how he had been stringing wire all day in the rain: such was the life, he said, of a radio man.
|Charles Davis at the 9th Marine's rear base on Guadalcanal|
The largest island in the Solomons, approximately 130 miles long by 30 miles wide, an estimated 35,000 Japanese soldiers garrisoned Bougainville. Possessing a rugged central mountain spine, swamps, and a thick almost impenetrable, jungle, the island's few existing trails offered about the only means of land travel. The torrential rains and the abundance of jungle life, especially the multitude of insects, added to the other difficulties of jungle travel.
Like the earlier Guadalcanal operation, the Bougainville campaign was a limited‑objective assault designed to capture and defend a strategic airfield site--a vital link in the campaign to neutralize Rabaul, the Japanese stronghold on New Britain that was blocking the Allied advance up the Solomon chain. The Cape Torokina region was selected for the landing because the Japanese lightly defended it, possessed a suitable site for an air base, and was part of a natural defensive region approximately eight miles by six miles in dimension.
At 0730 on D‑Day, the landing craft carrying the 9th Marines' assault waves crossed the line of departure and headed for the chosen beaches of Empress Augusta Bay. Landing with three battalions abreast on the extreme left of the division beachhead, the regiment encountered little enemy opposition. It rapidly crossed the beaches, established defensive positions, and sent a strong patrol to the Laruma River mouth to protect the division's left flank.Early on the morning of 7 November, four Japanese destroyers made a surprise counter‑landing on the beaches west of the beachhead, unloading about 475 men rushed down from Rabaul. Two of the landing boats, containing about 50 men, actually landed only 400 yards from 3/9's positions in the rear of its combat outpost. The Japanese tried fruitlessly to penetrate the Marine defenses and then retired into a swamp area nearby to regroup.
The first unit to engage the enemy in fighting was the 4th Platoon of Regimental Weapons Company, of which Charles was a part, as it supported the 3d Raider Battalion, attached to the 9th, in securing Puruata Island.
The Marines encountered stiff opposition while securing the island as well‑concealed Japanese riflemen and machine‑gunners opened fire upon advancing troops. While searching for the body of a dead marine Charles was shot twice by a Japanese sniper. Both rounds struck his helmet but caused no injury; the first round struck just above his forehead and glanced off the steel surface, the second round struck crosswise in front of his eyes clipping the inner fabric lining as it hung from the helmet.
By noon of the next day, resistance on the island had ceased. Meanwhile, high surf and a steeply sloping beach were hindering the landing schedule on the Bougainville beaches assigned to the 9th by causing 86 boats to either broach or dump their cargoes into the sea. When it did not appear that the Japanese would offer opposition on the left or west flank, the 1st and 2d Battalions of the 9th Marines were moved on 2‑3 November to the east sector. This consolidation of the beachhead left the 3d Battalion, 9th Marines (3/9) on the extreme left flank. Before 3/9 could rejoin its regiment, the Japanese made their only attempt to reinforce their troops and the Battle of Koromokina Lagoon was on. 
The 3d Battalion immediately counterattacked and, in a heavy firefight lasting about five hours, destroyed a major portion of the original landing force. It could make little headway, however, since the Japanese continued to land reinforcements further down the beach and had the advantage of the foxholes abandoned by the Marines of the 9th when they evacuated these beaches. At 1315 the 3d Marines had to relieve 3/9 because of the latter's losses in attacking an emplaced enemy in dense jungle.
Simultaneously with the counter landing on the left, the Japanese had also launched an attack against the right flank of the perimeter, defended by the 9th with the 2d Marine Raider Battalion attached. At the Piva Trail roadblock, the 2d Raiders, with the mortars of the 9th furnishing fire support, forced the Japanese to break off contact.
At 0945 on 10 November, the 9th Marines again attacked after an air strike and mortar barrage on the enemy positions astride the Piva Trail. Advancing against light resistance, the Marines moved up and dug in across the Numa Numa Trail.The 9th Marines, after completing the exchange of sectors with the 3d on the night of 26‑27 November, advanced on the more active front, reaching the new forward line on the 28th and sending out strong patrols. Later, advancing with other units of the 3d Marine Division, the regiment moved up to occupy the new battle lines, relieving the 1st Parachute Regiment on Hill 1000 on 10 December.
Continuing forward in the divisional attack towards the Final Beachhead Line, the 9th advanced with its patrols ready for instant action, for the closeness of the terrain and proximity of the enemy precluded any carelessness. By 23 November, it had moved up as far as the impassable swamps to its front would allow. The same day, the 3d and 9th were ordered to exchange sub‑sectors, thus allowing the latter to take over the active sector while the 3d, which had engaged in heavy fighting, could take over the relatively quiet sector.
Before the exchange could be made and in order to continue the advance, 1/9 passed through the 3d Marines on 25 November and launched an attack upon a ridge, later known as "Grenade Hill" from the hail of grenades tossed down on the Marines by the Japanese. The dense jungle prohibited mortar support, and the necessity of close‑in fighting hindered the advance until the enemy decided to evacuate the ridge during the night. After occupying "Grenade Hill", 1/9 reorganized and continued the attack until the final objective, the hill mass dominating the East‑West Trail, was taken. This action ended the Battle of Piva Forks. The engagement had broken the back of organized enemy resistance and cleared the way for a substantial expansion of the beachhead perimeter.
With the establishment of the Final Beachhead Line, the remaining action was confined to patrol activity. The 9th Marines were relieved on the front lines two days after Christmas, after spending 57 days helping to clear the Japanese from the Empress Augusta Bay area. Tested in the crucible of jungle combat, the Marines of the 9th had not been found wanting. Boarding LST-446, the regiment returned to Guadalcanal on 30 December. Here they reoccupied their former camp and began arduous training for a new assault landing.
Muster Rolls - April 1944, Regimental Weapons Company, 9 Marines, 3 Marine Division.
Initially in the field Marine commanders were skeptical that such a fast, efficient communication method was completely secure, and they tested the speed and accuracy of the code talkers against more traditional methods of encoding and sending messages. The code talkers repeatedly proved their worth, and by May 1943 nearly all of the commanders in the Pacific were singing their praises.
When a message came in for a code talker to decipher, it was preceded by either “Arizona” or “New Mexico.” With this, the Japanese began to recognize that a certain type of code was being used consistently. Although they were unable to break it, they became increasingly frustrated with their inability to decipher what they heard, and their radio operators would shout and curse at the Navajo in a desperate attempt to interfere with transmissions. Japanese forces were also efficient at tracing the origin of communication signals, and all radio operators had to be skilled to set up their equipment, transmit quickly and run. Teddy Draper Sr. remembers that he “didn’t have time to shoot back” while sending and receiving messages . . .
The code . . . consisted of both individual words as well as an alphabet for things that would need to be spelled, like names of people and places. It came to include nearly 400 words, and carrying written copies into battle was against military rules. Every term and letter representation was memorized, and the code was never deciphered by the Japanese.
After months of preparation at their rear base on Guadalcanal, which included practice in street fighting, the 9th was ready for an assault landing, this time on Guam. The culminating point of the training was a full‑scale division landing experience at Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal. With the final rehearsal behind them, the Marines of the 9th, now combat‑tested veterans, stood ready to lead the assault on the beaches of Guam.
The largest and southernmost of the Marianas group, Guam is a peanut‑shaped island of volcanic origin, approximately 30 miles long, with a width varying from four to eight miles. A central lowland in the middle divides the island almost equally between the high plateau area to the north and the broken mountainous area to the south. The rugged terrain is blanketed by vegetation ranging from low, dense jungle to sword grass. Almost the entire island is ringed by ragged coral reefs. A portion of the western shore was the most militarily valuable sector of the island.
Several beaches suitable for full-scale landings were located on the western shore, but the Japanese defenders had painstakingly fortified these with underwater mines and obstacles. Hoping to prevent prohibitive casualties, III Amphibious Corps in charge of the operation counted on surprising the Japanese by crossing wide reefs to land on beaches, which were ringed, by steep cliffs. To add to the enemy's confusion, two simultaneous landings were to be made on beaches five miles apart. Charles’ 3d Marine Division would land on the beaches between Adelup Point and Asan Point, while the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade was to land at Agat to the south of Orote Peninsula.
Assigned Blue Beach on the extreme right flank of the 3d Marine Division, the 9th had several missions. Its first objective was to seize the ridges just inland from the beach and then, to expand the beachhead to the perimeter designated by III Corps. On order, the regiment was to drive west around the shore of Apra Harbor to link up with the 1st Brigade.
At 0740 on 21 July 1944, the amphibian tractors carrying the first assault waves of the 9th Marines started toward the shore of Guam, which had just undergone the heaviest preparatory bombardment yet delivered by the Navy in the Pacific. After crossing the reefs and landing the Marines on the beach, the amphibian tractors hastened back to the reef's edge to rendezvous with landing boats bringing up following waves.
|Blue Beach, just above Asan Point, which can be seen at the bottom right.|
Before the close of day on 21 July 1944, Charles received a mortal wound during the initial assault on Blue Beach as the Weapons Company attempted to assist the bogged down 3/9 on the right flank. The official report would describe his last actions with a simple footnote:
N 21, killed in action against the enemy, wounds, shrapnel, back and legs. No 2576, key letter “K”, in line of duty. GO20 does not apply; char Exc; 22, remains interred in grave 8, row 2, Ninth Marines Field Cemetery No 1, Asan Point, Guam.
|Ninth Marines Field Cemetery No 1, Asan Point, Guam.|
With the end of organized enemy resistance, the 9th regiment went into camp south of Ylig Bay in a coconut grove and resumed training after a short rest. This training was interrupted when a general sweep of the island was ordered to seek out and destroy or capture all Japanese stragglers. On 24 October, the 3d Marine Division moved out with its three rifle regiments abreast, the 9th in the center. The sweep ended 30 October, with 617 Japanese killed and 85 prisoners, and the 9th Marines returned to its Ylig Bay camp.
On 18 August 1944 a telegram was sent to Charles' parents at their former address in Gallup, New Mexico. A second telegram was issued five days later, this time to Charles' wife, in care of Joy Davis at Arizona Sand and Rock, his place of employment. The telegrams eventually found their way to the Davis home in Flagstaff, Arizona. The knock on the door was answered by Charles' second sister Mary Lou - who was barely 11. When she opened the door and found the Western Union man standing there she was shaken; telegrams were expensive, and with the war on, it meant something terrible.
FN131 81 3 EXTRA GOVT=WUX WASHINGTON DC VIA GALLUP NMEX 18 NFTMR AND MRS CHARLES DAVISCARE DEFENCE PLANT FG
49 1944 AUG 18 PM 4 50DEEPLY REGRET TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR SON CORPORAL CHARLES A DAVIS USMC WAS KILLES IN ACTION IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTY AND SERVICE OF HIS COUNTRY. NO INFORMATION AVAILABLE AT PRESENT REGARDING DISPOSITION OF REMAINS. TEMPORARY BURIAL IN LOCALITY WHERE DEATH OCCURRED PROBABLY. YOU WILL BE PROMPTLY FURNISHED ANY ADDITIONAL INFORMATION RECEIVED TO PREVENT POSSIBLE AID TO OUR ENEMIS DO NOT DIVULGE THE NAME OF HIS SHIP OF STATION. PLEASE ACCEPT MY HEARTFELT SYMPATHY LETTER FLOWS=A A VANDERGRIFT LIEUT GENERAL USMA COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS
During Sergeant Miller’s post-war visit with the Davis family he was unable to reveal any details about Charles’ duties during the war. Earlier, in December 1944, Sergeant Miller had sent a letter to the family which provided hints of where Charles had seen action, but that was the extent of their knowledge up to this visit.
The Navajo Code Talkers, and their unbreakable code, were still classified. It was not until 1968, nearly twenty-four years later that the U.S. Government declassified the program. However, it had been revealed so informally, that it wasn't until 1982 that the public first heard official recognition of the Navajo Code Talkers. By then family tradition had been entrenched and Charles’ life as a Marine Corps sharpshooter was set in stone. It was by all accounts factual. Indeed he was a sharpshooter, as the records reflect, but he had taken an active, first hand, part in one of the most extraordinary events in the 20th century. He had protected the Navajo code, defended his fellow Marine – with his own life, and did his all to secure America’s victory in WWII – and nobody would know about it for over half a century. Maybe that explains his smirk while in his dress blues.
In 2001 President George W Bush declared,
Today we mark a moment of shared history and shared victory. We recall a story that all Americans can celebrate, and every American should know. It is a story of ancient people, called to serve in a modern war. It is a story of one unbreakable oral code of the Second World War, messages traveling by field radio on Iwo Jima in the very language heard across the Colorado plateau centuries ago.
 Diné, the original name for the Navajo people, literally means “the People,” or “Children of the Holy People. It is used singularly as a complete name, in lieu of and not in conjunction with Navajo. In 1994 the use of the term was rejected by the Navajo Council stating that the use of the term Diné represented the time of the suffering before the “Long Walk.” However, many traditionalists prefer the original name over the common usage of Navaho, which has two correct and acceptable spellings; Navaho or Navajo. See also http://navajopeople.org/ and "Navajo oppose name change", Indian Country Today, 12 January 1994; Online – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navajo_Nation (accessed 25 June 2014).
 9th Marines, 2d Marine Division reactivated at Camp Elliott, San Diego, as an integral part of the 2d Marine Division, 12 Feb. 1942 – Lt. Colonel William B. Olney commanding officer. 3 Aug. 1942 reassigned to Amphibious Corps, Pacific Fleet. On 8 Sep. 1942 received its final designation, besides “reinforced” status, to 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division – Colonel Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. commanding officer.
 On June 14, 1940 Camp Holcomb, formerly part of the Camp Kearney facility, was renamed Camp Elliott in honor of the 10th Commandant of the Marine Corps, General George F. Elliott, and became the Fleet Marine Force Training Center, West Coast. It was located north east of San Diego, within the present-day boundaries of the Naval Air Station, Miramar.
 Michael D. Visconage. U.S. Marine Corps Marksmanship Badges from 1912 to the Present. History and Museums Division. Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps, (Washington, D.C.: 1982). Online - https://www.mcu.usmc.mil/historydivision/Pages/Publications/Publication%20PDFs/U.S.%20Marine%20Corps%20Marksmanship%20Badges%20From%201912%20To%20The%20Present.pdf (accessed 20 Mar 2014).
 October 1942, Muster Roll. Ancestry.com. U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1798-1958 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Muster Rolls of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1798-1892. Microfilm Publication T1118, 123 rolls. ARC ID: 922159. Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, Record Group 127; Description : Roll 0544. See image 1 and 2.
 January 1943, Muster Roll. Ancestry.com. U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1798-1958 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Muster Rolls of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1798-1892. Microfilm Publication T1118, 123 rolls. ARC ID: 922159.Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, Record Group 127;
 During the war the United States Lines passenger liners SS America and SS Washington transported over 1,000,000 soldiers.
 Truman R. Strobridge. A Brief History of the 9th Marines. Historical Branch, G-3 Division. Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. (Washington, D.C.: 1967) Online - https://archive.org/details/briefhistoryof9t00stro (accessed 20 Mar 2014).
 January 1944, Muster Roll. Ancestry.com. U.S. Marine Corps Muster Rolls, 1798-1958 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. The National Archives at Washington, DC. USA; Series: Navy Muster Rolls, 1939-1949; National Archives Publication: Ship Muster Rolls; Record Group Title: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel; Record Group Number: 24.
 US Senator Jeff Flake and AZ State Senator Paul Goshar. “Honoring Navajo Code Talkers.” Congressional Record Volume 157, Number 187 (Wednesday, December 7, 2011). Online - http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2011_cr/navaho.html (accessed 20 Mar 2014).
 Heather Karr. “Navajo Code Talkers in World War II.” Mylifemagazine.com. MyLIFE Magazine (Scottsdale, AZ. Nov-Dec 2013). Online - http://mylifemagazine.com/navajo-code-talkers-in-world-war-ii (accessed 20 Mar 2014).
 Laura Tohe. “Jimmy Begay July 6, 2009, Sawmill, AZ.” Code Talker Stories. Rio Nuevo Publishing. (Tucson, AZ: 2012) 27.
 A review of Muster Rolls for the Regimental Weapons Company, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, (June 1942 through December 1944) verified the identity of each member of the March 1944, Guadalcanal photograph – as written on the back of the photograph – including their MOS, except one. All survived the war except Charles Davis and Alvin Lewis.
 Terrain on Guam, which measured approximately 28 miles long by 4 to 8 miles wide, was similar to that of Saipan. There were about 19,000 fighting men on the island, who, with the five-week delay in the invasion, had the opportunity to construct formidable underwater defenses. The defenders received concentrated bombardment from American air and naval forces, including a 13-day continuous naval bombardment, the most prolonged of the war. The invasion force's objective was to quickly take Apra Harbor on the west coast and the Orote Peninsula bounding it to the south. The 3rd Division would go in to the north of the harbor, on what were called the Asan beaches. The 1st Provisional Brigade would land about five miles to the south, just below the Orote Peninsula. After beach reconnaissance and obstacle clearance by Navy "frogmen" (Underwater Demolition Teams), 20,000 3rd Division Marines landed July 21 on the Asan beaches.
 Battle of the Marianas (Guam) Marine casualties: 30,214 Marine participants, 1,082 were killed, 125 were missing and 4,852 were wounded.
 “Navajo Code Talkers and the Unbreakable Code.” Central Intelligence Agency (Washington, D.C.: 2008). Online - https://www.cia.gov/news-information/featured-story-archive/2008-featured-story-archive/navajo-code-talkers/ (accessed 20 Mar 2014).
 The Japanese held the high ground overlooking the landing area, and the Marines took casualties as a result. They fought back with artillery that allowed them to hit the hidden sides of the hills, and were supported by air-spotted naval gunfire . . . defeating a Japanese counterattack at dawn July 22. Admiral Soemu Toyoda, Commander of the Japanese Fleet, on 15 June 1944 announced, “The fate of the Empire rests on [the] battle” of the Philippine Sea, which included the capture of Guam in the Marianas. “The victory in the Marianas made an American victory over Japan inevitable.” (The United States Navy in WWII, S.E. Smith, 1966, William Morrow & Co., Inc.)
 Bush, George W, President. “Remarks by the President in a Ceremony Honoring the Navajo Code Talkers.” (Washington, D.C.: 2001). Online - http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2001/07/20010726-5.html (accessed 20 Mar 2014).