November 14, 2008
News 12 at 6 o'clock
AUGUSTA, Ga. --- He's a real American hero, winner of the nation's highest military award for heroism, The Medal of Honor. His name is Sammy Davis, but you probably know him better by his screen name. He's the real Forrest Gump.
The heart of the Forrest Gump story is about heroism. In the film, Gump saves the lives of his fellow soldiers, pulling them out of the jungles of Viet Nam. And he's awarded the medal of honor for it.
Tom Hanks was acting the part. Sammy Davis lived it.
"That is me, yes sir," he told News 12 in a one-on-one interview. "In the movie 'Forrest Gump', when the president is putting the medal around Forrest's neck, that is my original film footage. So that is me. They just put Tom (Hanks)'s face over mine."
Davis, who is from Dayton, Ohio, not Alabama, is quick to separate fact from fiction.
News 12: "Did you play football for Alabama?"
Davis: "No, sir, I did not."
News 12: "Did you ever own a shrimp boat?"
Davis: "No, sir, I owned a catfish boat."
News 12: "Were you shot in the buttocks?"
Davis: "Yes, sir, I was indeed shot in the buttocks."
It was in November 1967, and Sergeant First Class Davis was an Army artillery man in Viet Nam. His unit was in a lopsided fight.
"There were 42 of us kids and 1,500 of the enemy."
And even though he was injured himself, with a broken back and crushed ribs, he was able to make it across a river to rescue fellow soldiers who were too wounded to move.
There's a river in the movie too.
"For some reason they chose to stop it at the riverbank," Davis said. "In actuality, I swam across the river and got my brothers and brought them back across the river."
There were 3 wounded brothers and Sammy knew he didn't have the strength to do it alone.
"So I, in earnest, asked the Man Above to give me the strength to carry all three of my brothers at one time. And I did and He did--and we did. Hooah!"
Today Sammy Davis proudly wears the medal President Johnson placed around his neck.
"Although my name is on the back of it, I know it doesn't belong to me. It belongs to- at the very least- the other 41 kids that was there. I'm no hero--I just did my job. That's shat soldiers do."
In the movie--- Forrest Gump has a surprise for the president, practically mooning him at the White House. We had to ask.
News 12: "Did you show the president your wounds?"
Davis: "No sir, he didn't ask. But if he would have asked, I would have shown him!"
Sammy Davis...the real Forrest Gump. Davis is the guest of honor Friday night at the Boy Scout fund raiser at St. Paul's. It's sold out. But Saturday at 9am he will speak to eagle scouts of all ages at Enterprise Mill.