Meet James Alvie Davidson, 73, veteran, sarcastic wit, and local character. He served in the U.S. Army from 1962 to 1983 and is a Waynesville resident.


 SFC (ret.) James Alvie Davdison talks about his youth, military service, and life in general with humor and a touch of sarcasm.

The Vietnam veteran began his service in Arkansas and has traveled to many different parts of the world.

"On December 4th of ’62, I joined the military in Little Rock, Arkansas. It was 5 days before my 19th birthday. I joined the military to get out of Arkansas. I was raised a farmer, and I got tired of being a farmer, so I joined the military," Davidson said.

Davidson joked that Arkansas state motto was "Land of Opportunity" and he took the opportunity to join the military and get out of Arkansas.

The beginning of his career saw him training in Fort Polk, Louisiana and Fort Leonard Wood, then on to Fort Dix, New Jersey.

"Then they took our whole unit, plus 3 more units and put us on a ship in the New York harbor. Fifteen days later, we got off that ship in Bremerhaven, West Germany, where they put us in a troop train to Frankfurt, West Germany, to a replacement area. It took about a day and a night to get there. Then they gave me a train ticket to Regensburg, West Germany. From there I was sent to Straubing, West Germany. I was assigned to the 2nd platoon of the 619th Engineer Company, attached to the 11th Army Cavalry in Regensburg. That started my military career," Davidson said.

Davidson chronicled his service, switches in MOS (military occupation specialty), which included time in Korea, Germany, and Vietnam.

"Now, I switched over from being a bridge specialist when the 11th Cavalry deactivated and came back to the states. I switched to the 503rd Light Equipment Engineer Company in Kornwestheim, West Germany. I was there two years: ’64 and ’65. In 1966, I was in A Company, 44th Engineer Battalion in Korea, as a dozer operator. I went to Vietnam for the first time in December of 1967 with 1st Engineers, A company at An L?c, Vietnam. After that they sent me to Kaiserslautern, West Germany to the 93rd MP Battalion."

"I spent three weeks in Mannheim on guard duty. After three weeks they finally figured out I wasn’t an MP, so they sent me back to the 94th Engineers in Nellingen Barracks in Stuttgart, West Germany as a Rome plow operator.  In ’70-’71, I was in Vietnam again with the 36th Engineer battalion as a military advisor on a tugboat to the Vietnamese. Then I was back in West Germany. That would have been Karlsruhe, as part of the 249th Engineer Battalion for 41/2 or 5 years,” Davidson said.

Davidson said he didn't have a favorite place to be stationed during his time in the service, saying "none" of them were, but he did have some positive things to say about Germany.

"Germany had the best food though; schnitzel and home fries. I drank a lot of beer while I was over there. They had the nicest people, too; they weren’t shooting at me," Davidson said.

 Life outside service

 He talked a little about the end of his time in the Army and what came next, describing a brief, two-week recall before finally getting out of the service permanently.

“I came back to Fort Leonard Wood in Headquarters 4-4 (4th Brigade, 4th Battalion) in March or April of 1982. I retired January 1st of ’83 as a Sergeant First Class E7. I was active a little over 20 years altogether. They brought me back in after I’d been retired for 7 or 8 years for an operation on Fort Leonard Wood. They processed us in, and two weeks later they processed us back out. I’ve been here ever since ‘83. We opened a restaurant outside the South Gate, and we made donuts and deep fried chicken. Now we don’t make donuts or fried chicken, we sell a lot of schnitzel and beer," Davidson said.

Davidson is currently working in the mess halls on Fort Leonard Wood and is known for his sarcastic wit. He enjoys fishing in his spare time and is considered a local character.

"I love to go fishing. I didn’t get to fish much in Germany, it cost too much. The locals can’t afford a license. In Germany it takes 6 months to get a driver’s license, and to get a fishing license, you have to go to school for 4 weeks. You can’t just fish anywhere, you have to fish where they tell you to. They don’t have farm ponds like they do around here," Davidson said.

He told the Daily Guide that if he could say anything to his younger self, he'd say, "Let's go fishing."