Bobby Lee Davis - called to be a servant

Bobby Lee Davis is the October Hometown Military Hero featured in The Tennessee Magazine


Drafted into the Navy in 1966 during the height of the Vietnam War, Bobby Lee Davis served as the captain of assault patrol boat 131-8 in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. A part of the “Brown Water Navy” — River Squadron 113 — Davis’s boat provided support operations for 9th Infantry Division, SEAL teams, Green Berets working with Cambodian mercenaries and other efforts against the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese regulars.

“The River Division had a lot of boats,” Davis said. “The monitor boat had a Howitzer — it was like a tank; another one had a flamethrower. The tangle boats carried troops, and our boat went ahead, preparing for the launch and doing the mine-sweeping. We never encountered any mines. We just shot anything in the river in case it was a mine.”

“I painted my boat brown like the water and mounted extra guns — twin 50s and turrets mounted overhead, stand-up mounts and grenade launchers. It looked like a battleship,” Davis continued. “ We saw combat just about every day. There was no rest. But only two of my men were wounded — we didn’t lose any. One was wounded when the machine gun he was shooting overheated and blew up! Our boat was hit by an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) one time, but it never sank even though the bullets sometimes were falling like rain.

“There must have been a lot of people praying for me to keep me safe. I had a lot of near-misses and experienced a lot of miracles during that time, but it was after I got out and got home that I found the Lord. I was a hothead and got in a lot of fights with men a lot bigger than me, but when my fighting nearly cost my brother his life, I changed my ways, found Jesus and became a servant to the Lord.

“When I got home in 1970, I went to college on the GI Bill and got an associate degree in nuclear technology at Chattanooga State. TVA was building the nuclear power plants back then, and I was hoping to get on with them. That didn’t happen, and I ended up working at the University in Cincinnati monitoring radiological aspects for a while before moving back down here. I found work in a chemical plant in Chattanooga. While there, I was involved in an accident that left me with second-degree burns over 40 percent of my body and was left with a 20-percent disability. I received a settlement from the accident and bought the property here in Bledsoe County and began my ministry. I’ve been here 41 years now.

“I started with a house for me and my wife, Pat, building as I could afford the materials. In the next few years I got my firearms license and opened a gun shop for a while. When I began my ministry, I was the pastor of a church here for several years. Then I started a hunting club and ministered to many veterans through it.”

Davis most enjoys and feels most led to teach. “If sharing what I’ve learned can make a life better or even save a life, then I’m doing what I was called to do: to be a servant. The only thing I have to give is what I have lived,” he said.

Davis has taught classes on survival, firearms safety, hunter education, self defense for women and basic conversational Spanish in addition to Bible study through the church. He’s been a missionary with the Southern Baptist Association in Mexico, Brazil and the Cayman Islands. Davis did his civic duty by serving a four-year term as a Bledsoe County commissioner. His goal was to improve the community he had adopted with his move from Hixson in the late 1970s. He was able to help secure funding for a couple of local fire halls, among other projects.

Even though Davis was awarded three Bronze Stars, a Navy Commendation Medal for leadership and meritorious service while displaying calmness and bravery under fire during numerous combat missions and a Gallantry Cross for operations against the enemy during the Tet Offensive, he feels his greatest and most meaningful accomplishment is leading others to the know the Lord through the Mountain Christian Association and the hunting club he founded (he now serves as its president).

Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative is proud to honor this brave warrior who continues to follow the path of teacher and servant he felt called to so many years ago.