Dempsie Augustus Davis
West Point, 1955
Be Thou At Peace
Posted by Spartanburg Herald-Journal on November 16, 2009:
SPARTANBURG, SC-- Colonel (Retired) Dempsie Augustus Davis, Jr., USAF, passed away peacefully in his home on Wednesday, November 4, 2009, at the age of 80. He lived a life of great expanse and depth, ever ready with a good story to share with his fellow man. He is survived by his wife Sally, their daughter Elizabeth, son-in-law Ron Nichols, daughter Peggy, son-in-law Eric Hillebrandt, son Dempsie III, and grandchildren Katie Nichols and Victoria Hillebrandt.
Dempsie was born on October 11, 1929, in Roebuck, SC, where he sought adventure and learned independence at an early age. In 1946 he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps in pursuit of his dream to fly, serving in the armament and aircraft maintenance career fields, where he rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant. He was always proud of attaining the rank of a noncommissioned officer (NCO).
Five years later in 1951 he earned an appointment to the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point. While there, he was Captain of the Skeet & Trap Team which, next to flying, was one of his great loves. Upon his graduation in 1955, Dempsie entered flight school with his first operational assignment to the Tactical Air Commands 21st Helicopter Squadron at Donaldson Air Force Base, South Carolina.
But his most enduring adventure after graduation was his marriage, in 1956, to the former Sally Angela Frey. And, a year later, they celebrated the birth of their first daughter, Elizabeth "Betsy" Davis. Soon after the arrival of their first child, they headed overseas to Japan where Dempsie flew rescue missions, receiving thanks and gratitude from the governor of the prefecture, and where they celebrated the birth of twins, Peggy and Dempsie, III.
Subsequent assignments included education with industry in Connecticut, at United Aircraft, where Dempsie spent time with Igor Sikorsky; Claremont Graduate University where he earned a Masters in Economics; and Edwards Air Force Base, California, where he "slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies" as a test pilot. Then it was on to Nevada with the Atomic Energy Commission, Vietnam, as a combatant; Georgia as a logistician; and back to Edwards AFB where he established the directorate of Flight Test Evaluation. His last military assignment was as a Director at the Armament Development and Test Center in Florida.
Colonel Davis was a Test Pilot and Command Pilot with over 3,500 flying hours in 26 types of military aircraft. He retired from the U.S. Air Force in June 1979 after serving more than 33 years in the military.
Upon his military retirement, Dempsie and Sally relocated to Spartanburg, where Dempsie continued to be involved with the community as a college instructor; Quail Unlimited conservationist, dedicated to preserving and reestablishing crucial upland game bird habitats; shooting coach; and supporter of Hunters for the Hungry.
Dempsie lived many lifetimes in one, always with honor and fully engaged. His physical condition forced him to wage a tough battle these past few years, and he made the long journey back Home with great courage.
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