- Category: USS Arizona Survivor Stories
- Last Updated: Saturday, 21 November 2015 23:12
- Published: Friday, 23 May 2003 00:00
Henry Donald Davison
Ensign on 7 December 1941
From the USNA "Class of 1940"
Along with about ten others of the class, Hank was ordered to USS ARIZONA upon graduation. They soon found themselves in a somewhat accelerated program of qualification for top watch, etc., which gave some hint as to what the future held.
It was his luck to have the 8-12 deck watch on that fateful morning. Wounded during action, he was hospitalized for about three weeks before being ordered to a destroyer, USS CRAVEN, where he served for 2-1/2 years as Gunnery Officer and then Executive Officer. He was awarded the Silver Star for action in the battle of Vella Gulf.
Hank returned to CONUS and commissioned USS ROGERS as Executive Officer. The war ended with ROGERS in Pearl Harbor en route to Japanese waters. He thus found himself at the end of the war only a mile from where he was so personally involved in its beginning.
Subsequent tours included: USNA (taught Spanish, Seamanship and Navigation); Operations Officer of an APA during the Korean conflict; recommissioned and commanded USS ROBINSON (DD); Armed Forces Special Weapons Project (concerned with refining atomic weapons effects data; determined the placement of military equipment at Nevada test site to receive specific parameters of damage; determined also the location for troop placement and occupied the trench with the troops); Chief, Navy Section, MAAG, Uruguay (determined the needs of the host Navy to enable them to meet their obligations under the Rio Treaty and programmed the delivery of equipment and training of personnel in the operation and maintenance of same); commanded USS EDISTO (icebreaker) in Arctic and Antarctic deployments. Hank received SECNAV Commendation ribbon for various rescue operations performed during the EDISTO tour.
Hank retired in May, 1963, and spent the next 21-1/2 years as faculty member, Department of Engineering Technology, St. Petersburg Junior College, teaching mathematics, physics, mechanical design, circuit theory, engineering graphics and computer programming.
Hank has been active in community affairs; over 25 years a Rotarian; past Secretary and Past President, St. Petersburg Rotary Club--honored by that club by being named a Paul Harris Fellow. Past Area Coordinator, Polioplus campaign. Member, Administrative Board, First United Methodist Church.
Hank married his Academy O-A-O, Bettye Stewart of Cambridge, Maryland, in 1942. They have two daughters and one granddaughter.
Statement of Ensign Henry D. Davison
From: USS Arizona Action Report - 13 December 1941
It was just before colors, in fact, I had already sent the messenger down to make the 8 o'clock reports to the Captain. Then I heard a dive bomber attack from overhead. I looked through my spyglass and saw the red dots on the wings. That made me wonder, but I still couldn't believe it until I saw some bombs falling. The first one hit up by the air station. I sounded the air raid alarm and notified the Captain. The Captain and Lt. Comdr. Fuqua came on deck, and the Captain went on up to the bridge. Mr. Fuqua told me to sound General Quarters. About that time we took a bomb hit on the starboard side of the quarterdeck, just about abreast of No. 4 turret. We grabbed the men available and started dropping the deck hatches and leading out hoses on the quarterdeck. About this time, the planes that had made the initial dive bomb attack strafed the ship. Mr. Fuqua and I told all hands to get in the marine compartment. It was reported to us that we had a bomb in the executive officers' office. Mr. Fuqua told me to call the center engine room and get pressure on the fire mains. Then he went up to the boat deck. I told the Boatswain's mate of the watch to do that. Then I went into the O.D.'s booth to do it myself. Just after I stepped in the booth we took another hit which seemed to be on the starboard side of the quarterdeck just about frame 88. The Boatswain's mate and I were trapped in the booth by the flames. We started out of the booth, trying to run through the flames aft on the quarterdeck. We couldn't get through so we went over the lifeline into the water. I was conscious of a sweetish, sickening smell to the flame. After I got in the water, my first intention was to go to the key and then onto the quarterdeck or swim to the gangway and get aboard. But after I took one look at the ship, I decided that it was useless, she had settled down by the bow, and appeared broken in two. The foremast was toppled over; she was a mass of flames from the forecastle to just forward of turret 3. I was helped into a motor launch by Ensign Bush and another man. Then we in turn took the motor launch and picked up as many survivors as we could find in the water. We took them over to the landing at Ford Island. There we were met by Air Station Marines, who helped us get the wounded ashore. After we had unloaded the motor launch Ensign Bush and I took the barge, which had come up and took it back over alongside the quarterdeck where we gathered another load of injured. On our return to Ford Island, we noticed three more boats alongside the Arizona, so we proceeded to the air raid shelter. Then I went up to the dispensary for first aid treatment.
Just before all this shaking the quartermaster reported that a bomb had struck No. 2 turret.
Information researched and compiled by I. B. Nease and N. A. Nease and provided on USSARIZONA.ORG free of charge.
May not be reprinted in any form, other than educational use, without prior written permission of the author.