Clayton Davis was born on March 24, 1921, in Montpelier, Vermont. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in November 1941, and transferred to the U.S. Army Air Forces and entered the Aviation Cadet Program on March 6, 1942. Davis was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Foster Field, Texas, on November 10, 1942, and completed P-47 Thunderbolt training in January 1943. Lt Davis then joined the 487th Fighter Squadron of the 352nd Fighter Group at Mitchel Field, New York, and deployed with the group to England in June 1943. He was credited with destroying 1 enemy aircraft in aerial combat before the group transitioned to the P-51 Mustang in April 1944. He then destroyed 4 more in the air, making him an ace, as well as 4 on the ground while strafing enemy airfields, before being forced to bail out over enemy territory on August 17, 1944. After evading enemy forces and making his way back to Allied lines, he returned to the U.S. and served as an instructor pilot from November 1944 until he left active duty on October 4, 1945. Capt Davis remained in the Air Force Reserve until being recalled to active duty on November 10, 1947. He then served as a Training Officer at Bedford, Massachusetts, from December 1947 to April 1948, followed by service at Goodfellow AFB, Texas, until May 1949. After completing the Aircraft Maintenance Officer Course at Chanute AFB, Illinois, in July 1949, Capt Davis served with the 3545th Pilot Training Wing at Goodfellow AFB until July 1950, followed by service as a Training Detachment Commander at Chanute AFB from July 1950 to September 1953. He then completed advanced flying training before deploying to Korea, where he served with the 4th Fighter Interceptor Group and then with Headquarters 5th Air Force from March 1954 to January 1955, followed by service as Operations Officer and then Commander of the 388th Fighter-Bomber Squadron at Clovis AFB, New Mexico, from April to June 1955. He was Operations Officer for the 312th Fighter-Bomber Wing at Clovis from July 1955 to September 1956, and then returned to Korea, where he served as Operations Officer and then Commander of the 310th Fighter-Bomber Squadron from October 1956 to October 1957. Maj Davis served on the staff of the 3800th Air Base Wing at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from November 1957 to February 1963, followed by service with the 1141st Special Activity Squadron at Ramstein AB, West Germany, and then at Louveciennes, France, from February 1963 to August 1966. Col Davis served with the Special Air Warfare School at Eglin AFB, Florida, from August 1966 to July 1969, and then was an Operations Staff Officer with the 1131st Special Activity Squadron in Saigon, Republic of Vietnam, from August 1969 to April 1970. His final assignment was as Operations Officer for the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB, Florida, where he served from May 1970 until his retirement on November 30, 1970. Clayton Davis died on March 9, 1991, and was buried at the Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida.
His Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy, 8 May 1944. On this date Captain Davis led a flight of fighter airplanes in an attack against fifteen enemy fighters and in the ensuing engagement destroyed one enemy airplane and assisted in the destruction of another. Captain Davis then joined two friendly fighters and was almost immediately attacked from above by twenty or more enemy fighters, one of which he destroyed. Alone at a very low altitude and with only one gun firing, Captain Davis courageously attacked and destroyed an enemy fighter over an airdrome in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire. The heroic and fearless behavior of Captain Davis in the face of odds and grave danger reflect the highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States.