NORWOOD PARK — A veteran honored for heroism during the Vietnam War with the Medal of Honor will be the grand marshal of the 12th annual Northwest Side St. Patrick's Day Parade set for March 15.
Sammy L. Davis is the "is the truest of true American Heroes," parade organizer Elizabeth Murray-Belcaster said.
Footage of Davis receiving the Medal of Honor from President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 — with his head digitally removed and Tom Hanks' noggin added — appeared in the 1994 Oscar-winning movie "Forrest Gump."
Davis — who is often referred to as "the real Forrest Gump" — will also be presented with the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Northwest Side Irish Parade organization.
After volunteering to follow in the footsteps of his father — who served as an artilleryman in World War II — Davis was sent to Vietnam soon after graduating from high school in 1965.
In 1967, Davis' unit was attacked by 1,500 Viet Cong soldiers. Despite being blown sideways into a foxhole, Davis continued to return fire only to be knocked to the ground before paddling across a river on a mattress to help other soldiers.
After helping several injured soldiers, Davis rejoined the fight, only to be shot in the back and buttocks by friendly fire. Davis refused orders to be sent home, and worked as a cook for his unit after his wounds prevented him from returning to the front line.
Forrest Gump's fictional Medal of Honor citation was loosely based on Davis' real honor.
A fundraiser for the parade will take place from 5-9 p.m. Feb. 20 at Iron Horse Ale House, 6158 N. Northwest Highway. Tickets are $20, which includes two drinks, a raffle ticket and music from Ed Burns Rhythm and Blues.
Applications to march in the parade are available at northwestsideirish.org.
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