Phillip Davidson

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Phillip Buford Davidson Jr.
Phillip B. Davidson.jpg
Born(1915-11-26)November 26, 1915
Hachita, New Mexico
DiedFebruary 7, 1996(1996-02-07) (aged 80)
San Antonio, Texas
Place of burial
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army seal United States Army
Years of service1939-1974
RankUS-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant General
Battles/warsWorld War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
AwardsDistinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Legion of Merit (3)
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
Other workauthor

Phillip Buford Davidson Jr. (November 26, 1915 – February 7, 1996) was an American lieutenant general who served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.


Davidson was born on November 26, 1915 in Hachita, New Mexico. Davidson attended West Point, graduating in 1939. During World War II, he served as assistant intelligence officer in the 96th Infantry Division. Later, he served as a squadron commander in George Patton's Third Army.[1]

Following the war, he was assigned as an instructor to the Army's School of Intelligence in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Starting in 1948 and continuing throughout the Korean War, Davidson was chief, Plans and Estimates Branch, in General Douglas MacArthur's intelligence office. It was during this time that occurred one of the US Army's greatest intelligence failures in history - not predicting Chinese intervention in the Korean War.

In 1969, while assigned as commanding General of the Army training center at Fort Ord, California, Davidson was the respondent in the United States Supreme Court decision Parisi v. Davidson. In that case, the court granted habeas relief to a soldier seeking an honorable discharge as a conscientious objector.

During the Vietnam War, 1967 until 1969, Davidson was the chief of US intelligence in Vietnam, under the command of William Westmoreland and later Creighton Abrams. From May 3, 1971 to September 30, 1972, Davidson, then a major general, was the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Headquarters, Department of the Army. He was later promoted to lieutenant general.[2]

In 1988, he published Vietnam at War: The History 1946-1975,[3] which is widely regarded as one of the most comprehensive accounts of the Indochina wars.[4] He followed it up in 1990 with Secrets of the Vietnam War,[5] where he described his experiences in Vietnam.

Davidson died on February 7, 1996, in San Antonio, Texas. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Davidson is a member of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame.

Military decorations[edit]

Lieutenant general Davidson received many decorations during his military service:[6]

Army Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters
Bronze Star Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Purple Heart
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four Service Stars
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
National Defense Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Korean Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
United Nations Korea Medal
French Croix de Guerre 1939-1945 with Palm
Vietnam Campaign Medal


  1. ^ West Point Class of 1939: Phillip B. Davidson, Jr.
  2. ^ Tucker, Spencer. Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military History. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 1998, p. 262.
  3. ^ Davidson, Phillip B. Vietnam at War: The History, 1946-1975. Novato, Calif: Presidio Press, 1988. ISBN 0195067924
  4. ^ Jonathan Mirsky. Reconsidering Vietnam, The New York Times Review of Books, October 10, 1991.
  5. ^ Davidson, Phillip B. Secrets of the Vietnam War. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1990. ISBN 0891413820
  6. ^ Hall of Valor: Phillip Buford Davidson , Jr.

External links[edit]