NO. 17821 • 8 June 1926 ‑ 30 March 2000
Died in Leavenworth, KS
Interred in Mount Calvary Cemetery, Ft. Leavenworth, KS
Reed Ellsworth Davis, Jr., was born to Reed Ellsworth Davis, Sr., and Myrtle Kenworthy Davis in Omaha, NE. Reed, Jr., attended elementary and junior high schools there and spent many hours fishing with his father, and pursuing his interests in ham radios, fishing, and track. In 1944, he graduated from Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, MO. He then spent two years in the Army as an enlisted man and earned a competitive appointment to West Point. Before setting foot at the Academy, Reed prepared for the entrance exam at Amherst College, MA.
As a cadet, he continued his interest in track and developed a lifelong interest in squash. Reed also was known as "Bummy," but we have yet to learn the genesis of that nickname. The Howitzer says, "All cadets have sad stories, but Bummy had longer and sadder tales than anyone else we know. Where a man with less persistence and determination to turn in a creditable performance in the face of adversity would have cashed in his chips, Bummy rose to the occasion in a manner that makes us proud to claim him as one of ours." Roommate Drew Rutherford added that he and Reed were together at the Prep School at Amherst College and Ft. Benning, and when they reported to West Point, they were "quickly marked for special upper class attention as being former enlisted men with a cynical mind set." They then became roommates for two years as cadets in E‑2 Company.
On Graduation Day, 6 Jun 1950, Reed was among the 670 to graduate. The next day, he married Margaret "Peggy" R. Huston of Seattle, WA. Reed and Peggy met in Omaha during Reed's last Christmas leave from the Point. Peggy had recently graduated from Northwestern University. They had seven children: Lynn Anne, Christine, Carolyn Sue, Reed III, Stephen, James, and Sara Anne. Over the years, Reed and Peggy lost Christine, James, and Sara. Christine died in 1970 and is buried in Gettysburg, PA. James died in 1980 near Seattle and Sara died in 1998 at age 27 in a car accident in Kansas. She had just been accepted into medical school at the University of Kansas Lawrence. Reed spent the last two years of his life setting up a scholarship in her name. Peggy died in 1993 after a long bout with emphysema. Reed, Peggy, and Sara are all buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery.
Reed and his children's difficulty with timetables was typified by a weekend fishing trip to Lake Perry in Kansas. They were to be up "at the crack of dawn" but did not leave until 10:30 in the morning because they had to stop for fishing licenses, fishing gear, gas, and bait. By the time they arrived at Lake Perry, it was past noon, so they had lunch, rented a boat, motored around the lake and then drove home. Reportedly, this was not an unusual trip.
Reed chose the Infantry branch. For three years, he was the platoon leader and executive officer of the 550th Signal Relay Company in Karlsruhe, Germany, His next assignments were as commandant of the 1Oth Infantry Division Combat Arms Advanced NCO School at Ft. Riley; student at the Advanced Infantry Officers Course at Ft. Benning; and company commander in the 34th Infantry Regiment and assistant regimental S‑3 of the 19th Infantry Regiment. Later assignments include: professor of military science and tactics at San Francisco high schools; S‑3 of 3rd Brigade, 8th Division, 18th Infantry, in Berlin, Germany; CGSC; and graduate school at Georgia Tech, where he received a master's degree in industrial engineering. Reed spent the next two years at‑the Pentagon, Office of the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. Service in Viet Nam as a battalion commander and brigade executive officer with the Americal Division followed. He received the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal with V, seven Air Medals, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Purple Heart for wounds received in action.
Reed returned to the States for assignments with the Secretary of Defense; the Army War College; the Combat Developments Command; and the Training and Doctrine Command's Combined Arms Center. In 1978, he retired as a colonel and joined Vector Research, Inc. as a program manager until 1983. Hap Miller, a friend and professional associate of Reed's for many years, offered Reed a return to government service as the civilian deputy and chief technical advisor to the commanding general of the US Army Combined Arms Operations Research Activity at Ft. Leavenworth. In 1988, Reed left federal service to work with Vector Research, Inc. as a program manager, contributing to major studies and developments related to target acquisition, tactical nuclear doctrine, and training support systems.
Bill Lawrence, another friend and professional associate of Reed's, had this to say, "Reed was one of the first operations research/systems analysis officer specialists and perhaps the Army's most qualified colonel able to get into the “guts" of complex computerized force‑on‑force tactical models at the unit level and make them work to get a study done; as such, he had a very positive effect on the ArmyWeapons System Acquisition process."
Bill added this statement about Reed's personal life, "One of his principal hobbies was to be the most rabid fan for the University of Nebraska football team. There was none more energetic. Other than his work, a more consuming passion was his love for his late daughter Sara and his support for her love of horses. He spent many hours and days helping her to achieve her goals as a trainer and rider."
In the last few years of his life, Reed was a private defense analysis consultant in combat effectiveness of equipment, such as the main battle tank.
Reed Davis was a loyal son of West Point who served his country in peace and war with great distinction as a commissioned officer, Army civilian, and defense contractor. He was a good father and husband, and he was proud of his Nebraska roots.
Go Big Red!
Daughter Lynn Evans, Son Reed III, friends and classmate Lou Genuario