NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - World War II veteran Joe B. Davis says he's watched a lot of history, sharing the things he's seen with his family for decades.

Memorial Day marked a very important birthday for Davis, his 100th.

"You just came to see me?" Davis asked a man he'd never met after he walked through the door.

"I came to see you," the man answered. "That's what I did, yes."

The house was full of people, gifts and balloons.

In 1942, Davis was living near Fifth Street and Shelby in a very different Nashville. He went to a movie at the park one night and saw a soldier talking to a young woman named Ruby.

"He was getting closer to this pretty girl," smiled Davis. "I said, 'I better make my move!' I worked my way up and started talking to her."

"Of course, you know who that is," said Davis with a laugh, holding up a photo of he and Ruby from the early 1940s. "He's a little different lookin' fella than he looks today."

Two months after meeting Ruby, Davis was drafted into the Army to serve in World War II.

"I said, 'will you wait for me to come back?'" remembered Davis. "She said, 'yes.'"

Davis was stationed in places including Sicily, every day keeping a New Testament close.

"I kept it, and in every spare minute in combat, I would read it," he said, gripping that same New Testament.

"I got hit and was in the hospital," Davis continued. "If it hadn't been for that, I would've been in D-Day."

After many months and many letters home, the war ended.

"It felt good when I saw the Statue of Liberty," said Davis.

Davis and his wife, Ruby, started a long life together, 65 years of marriage. 

Ruby passed away 11 years ago.

Monday, generations of family, old friends and people who'd never met Davis before came in for a handshake and a thank you.

"I'm glad to see the day a lot of people thinks a lot about the service," said Davis. "If we hadn't done it, we wouldn't have our freedom."

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Forrest Sanders is an award-winning reporter, videographer and editor at News4.

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