By Jennifer Martin
Clarence Davis was just 18 years old when he enlisted in the armed forces.
"I didn't ask my mother and daddy nothing about it," he remembers. "I just went and signed up. Come home and told them I was fixin' to go in the Navy."
It didn't take him long to see action.
"We fired the 1st shot from a ship at Iwo Jima. We went from there to Okinowa to the east China Sea and stayed 33 days and nights blowing up mines, getting ready to invade Japan. At night, you didn't sleep too good in a mine field. They give us a Bronze Star for it. Said it was as dangerous as being at Iwo Jima or Okinawa."
And he knew the dangers of Okinowa firsthand.
"We was hit with a suicide plane at Okinowa. It killed 19. There was one boy standing there with his head cut off. He was on a 20 mm gunny. He's standing there holding the grips just like he's firing."
When his crew left the mine fields in the china sea, they headed for the Phillipines. It was there Davis contracted a fungus that would stay with him the rest of his life.
"They put us in the landing barge and that thing was leaking. And the man who run it, run it up to the edge about 30 or 40 feet from the land and just dropped the front gate and told us to unload. It was gonna sink. And we waded out after they told us not to get in the water. And we got that fungus on us. It was the day before they dropped the atomic bomb."
From the Philippines, they headed back to Okinawa, and eventually began transporting troops back to the US. In one trip, they got lost in a storm in the north Pacific.
"Stayed lost three days and nights. The sun didn't shine. The moon didn't shine. And they picked us up on radar and told us what course to come."
Davis was discharged shortly after that in January 1946. He still suffers from the fungus he got in the Phillipines. But Davis says he can't get his veterans health benefits to pay for the medication. The pills cost more than $350 a month. He says the government won't pay because he can't estimate his net worth. The government assesses the veteran's income and net worth to determine what benefits they qualify for.
"When I went in they told us we'd have medical care as long as we live and they're still telling that, and that's as big a lie... They said, 'well that was just a figure of speech, that's not in writing.' But if their word's not any good, their writing's not any good as far as I can see it."
WLBT contacted the V.A. about Davis's claim. We were told that his income level is likely to not make him eligible. And that a lot of veterans from his era were promised care that could not be delivered. The V.A. says Mr. Davis can't or won't supply information regarding his income.
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