Tom Davis Memorial  LbNA # 47377

Placed DateMay 24 2009
LocationBerea, OH
Found By Seven of Vulcan
Last Found Jul 17 2011
Hike Distance?

You will be looking for a two cup (5x3x3½”) lock & lock container that is covered with camouflage duct tape.


MATERIALS NEEDED: The box contains only a logbook and a stamp. Please bring your own Stamp-pad or Inking pens as well as a writing instrument.


DIFFICULTY: Travel to this box is on a paved all purpose trail which is suitable for strollers and mobility scooters. The actual recovery of the box will require a very short walk through woods.
Hike Length: 1.70 mile
Elevation Gain: 60 feet


Our family has resided in Berea since 1980, but we have only recently developed an interest in letterboxing.

Although we are very fortunate that the area is rich in letterboxing opportunities, I find that few of them have themes that are specific to the Berea area.

I am now placing a number of letterboxes featuring local culture, points of interest and history.

This letterbox was NOT developed as part of the Berea Series. In fact the only connection that I am aware of between Berea and Tom Davis is me. I was a friend and a comrade in the Army Security Agency who faced many of the same challenges and perils, the primary difference is that I was fortunate to have survived and he was not.

With both national plant a letterbox day and Memorial Day looming up it occurred to me that a memorial box might be fitting. Then I was reminded of Tom’s contribution to our continuing freedom. So this box was born and planted to memorialize and document the history of James T. Davis.



As a carrier soldier who served before, during, and after the Vietnam conflict, I have many memories - some pleasant and some not so pleasant. I have mixed feelings on this particular story as I was also on temporary assignment to Vietnam beginning in July 1961, long before we were publicly involved, but my orders were revoked. The question arises, why him and not me??!!

The following was extracted from the Davis Station web site which has much more information and photos

James T. Davis, had been in Vietnam for five months. The sights and sounds of the congested city and the erratic maneuvering of the Vietnamese driver as he nosed through traffic were a sharp contrast to Davis' life in rural Livingston, Tennessee.

As a child, much of his time was spent out of doors hunting, fishing and exploring the hills in and around Livingston. While in high school he played football as a defensive halfback. The year after he graduated, "Tom" Davis married his high school sweetheart, Geraldine Martin. Once, in a high school English class, he was given the assignment of writing an autobiography in which he stated, "My ambitions are unlimited, my fate unknown." James T. Davis would meet his fate as the first battlefield casualty of the Vietnam conflict.

Tom left his engineering studies at the Tennessee Technological University in his senior year to join the army. After training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Tom was transferred to Fort Devens, Massachusetts, where he completed the Direction Finding Course and the Instructor Training Course at the U.S. Army Security Agency School. In May 1961 he received orders for the 3d Radio Research Unit, Republic of Vietnam and on 22 December 1961, riding in that 3/4 ton truck, left the compound soon to bear his name.

Specialist Davis and the ten ARVN soldiers were on a radio direction finding mission twelve miles from Saigon. Davis and the ARVN's were half of a team who would find enemy radio transmission locations by tuning in the same frequency from two different geographical points. This procedure would enable such missions to pinpoint the exact location of enemy radio transmitters. During the detection process, however, Davis and the soldiers were themselves detected.

An unknown number of Viet Cong guerrilla forces were hidden along the sides of the road. As the vehicle passed, a land mine was detonated under its tailgate. The vehicle swerved off the right side of the road thirty yards past the point of explosion. Davis leaped from the cab of the truck to rally the ARVN forces. He took a stand fifty feet in front of the vehicle in an effort to gain the most effective position possible to return fire on the enemy. Although valiant: his attempt to return fire was brief. He managed to squeeze off four or five rounds before a bullet took his life. Nine of the ten ARVN soldiers were massacred in the onslaught. A Vietnamese Civil Guard unit located a mile from the action arrived on the scene but the Viet Cong had melted back into the jungle.

The body of James "Tom" Davis, the first American to lose his life in open battle with the Viet Cong, lay on the roadside on the outskirts of Saigon for over an hour until a U.S. Army officer and a member of the Vietnamese General Staff arrived on the scene by helicopter. The first mission of the new helicopter units in Vietnam was to recover the body of the first American killed in open combat. . . .”


Driving Directions:
I-71 - exit at Bagley Rd (from the north, turn right/from the south, turn left). Continue until you cross the Rocky River. When you cross over the bridge take an immediate left turn into the Metro park then park your car in the small lot on your left.

From the parking lot travel southward, away from Bagley Rd, on the all purpose trail adjacent to the parking lot. This is a nice stretch of trail which follows near the river and away from the parkway. Many artifacts of former structures are visible from the path. You will pass by a bench, the remains of a railroad bridge, and a long stretch of sandstone wall. After crossing under a bridge the trail will fork. Stay to the right.

You have now traveled one half mile. The trail will pass through the downtown commercial area of Berea using an old below grade cut. This short narrow section, which is shared with the parkway, is a good place to observe the natural sandstone formations that were instrumental in making the area a success.

The trail will return to grade level on the left side. Shortly afterwards it will make a couple of quick zigzags to the left away from the road. At the second of these a path lined by a split rail fence comes down the hill on the right. A few feet after the start of this second left bend you will see a social path on the left which leads to the river about 50 feet away. I had no difficulty with my mobility scooter on this path so you should be able to get your stroller down it.

Stand overlooking the old structures at the river bank and look to your right. There perhaps 30 feet away you will see a tree leaning diagonally from the ground toward the river. The base of this tree is partially covered by a six foot partial trunk section from an old forest giant laying flat on the ground. The home of TOM DAVIS MEMORIAL is covered with fragments at the junction of the tree and the trunk section.

Please let me know the status of this box when you find it.
It is helpful if you log your find both here and on Atlas Quest

I hope that you enjoy this adventure.