James H. (Jim) Davidson, born December 1, 1919, in Birmingham, Ala., passed away, Thursday, August 26, 2010. He joined the Air Force at 17 years old.
Jim flew missions from England and several bases in France as pilot in the 456th Bomb Squadron, 323rd Bomb Group, 9th Air Force. On his 44th mission against a target in Germany, an anti-aircraft shell shattered his canopy and wounded him in the back, left shoulder and right arm. He couldn't move his left arm. Jim thought he might bleed to death before getting medical attention. In spite of the terrific noise in the cockpit, shock, pain, loss of the use of his left arm and loss of blood, Jim managed to fly the airplane to a base in Belgium. He landed safely with one hand and braked to a stop just as he was slipping into unconsciousness. For this he was awarded the purple heart.
Jim stayed in the Air Force after the war and participated in the Berlin Airlift. He has been stationed in Germany, Greece, Italy, North Africa, Thailand during the Vietnam War, and several bases in the U.S. After retiring from the Air Force, he returned to college where he earned BSBA and BSBM degrees, graduating magna cum laude. He has held State Post Commander in the VFW, Department of State Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and National Vice Commander, Region 4.
After retiring, Jim and his wife Ruth lived in St. Petersburg and Punta Gorda, Fla. Following Ruth's death, Jim moved to Merritt Island, Fla., in 2003.
He is survived by a brother and sister-in-law, Richard and Jane Davidson of Titusville; sister, Joyce Steadman of Joppa, Ala.; nephew, Warren Sumerall, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Jim will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and memorial services will be held soon at Courtenay Springs Village.