Charles S. Davis



Col. Charles S. Davis
Chief of Staff to Gen. Lewis Pick - Ledo Road
Commander of Operations - Burma Road
China-Burma-India Theater of World War II

  Charles S. Davis was born in 1905 on a cattle ranch near Artesia, Territory of New Mexico. He spent his early years on the ranch with his parents, grandparents and five other related families.

The family later moved to Kansas City, MO to assist in selling the family cattle from New Mexico. Young Charles sold eggs from his pet chickens and delivered blocks of ice to neighbors for their iceboxes.

After graduating high school, he took a job driving an elderly gentleman from Kansas City to San Francisco including a stop at Yellowstone Park. The 1923 Studebaker he drove was equipped with 9 spare tires and they used each at least once to complete the trip. They arrived at the Palace Hotel the afternoon of August 2, 1923 to find a miitary guard circling the hotel. President Harding had died earlier at the hotel.

Charles worked nights and weekends to put himself through the University of Missouri, graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering in 1929. He eventually got a job as an engineer on a construction project in Honduras, erecting steel piers for United Fruit Company.

Upon return to the States he went to work for a heavy construction contractor in Kansas City. He worked on many jopbs in the midwest, building dams, bridges, canals, grain elevators and industrial plants.

In 1932 he was assigned to the Army Reserve and spent his training with the 381st Field Artillery commanded by Col. Harry S. Truman.

In 1940 he volunteered for active duty in the Army and was assigned as Chief of Operations at the Missouri River Division in Omaha, Nebraska. Here he worked with Lt. Col. Leslie Groves, who later commanded the Manhattan Project.

On his birthday, December 7, 1941 the country was plunged into war and he was assigned as Chief of Staff to Gen. Lewis Pick on the Ledo Road project in India and Burma. The road was considered a vital part of the war effort in the China-Burma-India Theater to keep supplies flowing to the Chinese fighting the Japanese. The original Burma Road supply line had been cut by the Japanese invasion of Burma. This was considered the most difficult road ever built, starting in deep jungle, crossing many large rivers and finally snaking its way through some of the highest mountain ranges in the world.

As the road neared completion, Col. Davis was promoted to Commander of Operations on the Burma Road. While commander he made weekly trips over the Himalaya Montains - "the Hump." Engineers were responsible for keeping the road passable in spite of jungle, enemy sabotage, floods and landslides.

During one trip over the Hump, Col. Davis had a meeting with Madame Chiang Kai-shek, Gen. Pick and Lord Louis Mountbatten. At this meeting they decided on a scorched earth policy and had all essential facilities destroyed so they would not fall into Japanese hands.

The Ledo Road was completed in early 1945 and Charles was ordered home. He was offered a position in Washington, D.C. as General on the staff of the Corps of Engineers. He elected to decline and went to work in the private sector.

Following his war years, Charles worked for S.J. Groves of Milwaukee and as a project manager for Utah Construction. He was Executive Vice President of Utah Construction for over 12 years, traveling around the world managing many projects from Europe to South America and Australia. He later became International Vice President of Perini Construction and supervised the design, development and construction of the Golden Gateway Project in San Francisco. Later as a consultant he was involved in the planning, design and permits for construction of the Pennsylvania Avenue Project in New York City.

At the age of 68 he purchased Piazza Construction in San Jose. Under his guidance they built roads, dams, bridges and the runways of the San Jose airport.

He was very active in his later years, even traveling to rekindle old friendships at a reunion of Burma Road Engineers.




 Charles S. Davis  Charles S. Davis

Chinese Yun-Hui medal in recognition of meritorious service






 Charles S. Davis  Charles S. Davis

For meritorious achievement in a combat zone





 Charles S. Davis  Charles S. Davis

For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service and achievements

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 Charles S. Davis





  Charles Davis joined ROTC to help put himself through college and spent time at Camp Ripley. His Commanding Officer was Harry S. Truman. In 1965 they met on a flight and discussed old times. Charles spoke of this photo and offered it to Truman for his Presidential Libary. As a thank you, Truman signed a copy of the photo and sent it to Charles.

Truman is seated at left. Davis is standing behind and between two seated soldiers on right

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Organizational chart of Zone Constructing Quartermaster at Omaha from December 15, 1941

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  As an additional thank you for the Camp Ripley photo, Truman sent Charles a cane made of wood removed from the White House during a 1950 renovation. Attached to the cane is a metal marker with Presidential seal and ORIGINAL WHITE HOUSE MATERIAL • REMOVED IN 1950. The cane is still in the possession of Charles' son Joe, who provided photos for this page.
The cane is shown at top with close-up of marker (pieced) below





(Left to right) Col. William J. Green, C.O. Road Headquarters; Col. Charles S. Davis, Exec. Off. Adv. Section; Maj. Gen. Lewis A. Pick, C.G. Advance Section; Col Richard Seele, C.O. 45th Engr. Regt.; Lt. Col. Donald Jarret, Charge of Road Maint.; Capt. George C. West, Aide to Gen. Pick.  Taken October 31, 1944 outside Gen. Pick's basha at Shingbwiyang, Burma.





General Pick and staff. (Top row, left to right) Maj. McGraw, Capt. Wood, Lt. Col. Allen, Maj. Reeves, Maj. Whitebread, Maj. Curtis. (Front row, left to right) Col. Green, Col. Selee, Maj. Gen. Pick, Col. Davis, Lt. Col. Morris, Capt. West.




 Lewis A. Pick
To Col. "Chuck" Davis  My good friend this may remind you of the days we spent on the Ledo Road.
Good Luck,  Lewis A. Pick  Chief of Engineers U.S.A.  1952




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 Charles S. Davis

Col. Charles Scott Davis Jr.


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