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Colonel Emmett Smith "Cyclone" Davis


1918 - 2015 Obituary Condolences
A great warrior has "slipped the surly bonds of earth" and left this mortal sphere behind. How the heavens must be rejoicing to receive this man! Cyclone endured many health trials in his later years but met them all with the same courage and fortitude with which he lived his entire life. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning on November 3rd, his great heart gave out and he passed into the loving arms of his wife who had visited him earlier in the day.
Cyclone, the fifth of eight children, was born on December 12, 1918 in Roosevelt, Utah to John Henry Davis and Nora LaRena Smith Davis. His first few summers were spent living in a tent near the Avintaquin Canyon as his father herded cattle and sheep. The family moved to Duschesne and then to Salt Lake City where Cyclone graduated from East High School and attended the University of Utah. In 1939 the family moved to California and settled in Compton.
In March of 1939, Cyclone met and fell in love with the beautiful Marjorie Gwen Poulton. Their courtship was interrupted by World War II, but Cyclone carried her picture on his kneepad throughout the war. After the war, Marjorie and Cyclone were married in Salt Lake on January 23rd, 1946.
Cyclone joined the U.S. Army Air Corps on April 5. 1940 and was stationed at Wheeler Field, not far from Pearl Harbor. It was Col. Davis's prowess as a dogfighter that earned him the nickname, "Cyclone." When Wheeler was bombed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Cyclone pulled four planes out of the fire, broke down the door to the armament depot to get guns and ammunition for his plane, and was one of the few pilots to get airborne during the attack. He commanded the 35th Squadron and the 8th Fighter Group during World War II. Both were known as "Cyclone's Flying Circus." Cyclone may have been the only pilot to fly missions the first day of the war as well as one of the last missions of the war. On August 10, 1945, the day after the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, he led 62 P-38s to bomb Kumamoto. Col. Davis and the 8th Fighter Group escorted the Japanese envoy to Manila to arrange the surrender protocol and were later part of the Army of Occupation in Japan.
After the war, he was a test pilot for the Air Force at Eglin Field in Florida. In November of 1950, he commanded the Air Proving Ground Test Team in Korea. In 1951 he flew in the fabled Bendix Trophy Race, finishing second. During his career, he served as a base commander, commanded five different squadrons, he was a group or wing commander six times, he commanded an air division, and held several high level staff positions. He piloted over one hundred different types and models of aircraft, flying everything from bi-wings to mach 2 jet aircraft. He was decorated forty-five times, including the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster, the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and the Presidential Unit Citation with two oak leaf clusters.
He served in the Air Force for 23 years, his last tour of duty being at the Pentagon. He retired in 1962 and moved to Palos Verdes, CA where he began his second career working for Hughes Aircraft Company. There he helped develop the first smart bombing systems and implemented the installation of the new Hughes radar into the F-15. He became reactivated in the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and in 1966 he and Marjorie and their three children were sealed in the Los Angeles Temple. He served his church as a Sunday School teacher, ward and stake missionary, high councilman, and temple worker. In 1972, the family moved to Westlake Village, CA where Cyclone and Marjorie lived happily for many years. In 2005, Cyclone finally fulfilled his lifelong promise to his adored wife to return to her beloved Utah. They built a home in Highland with their oldest daughter and lived there the rest of their lives.
Cyclone is an American hero, a national treasure. It is because of him and people like him that we are a free country. He lived a life that most could only imagine. He met with presidents, royalty, heads of state and many other dignitaries. He led multitudes, influenced thousands, and saved and changed lives. He has given everything he has, spiritually, physically, and temporally, to any and all who were ever in need. He is truly a great disciple of Jesus Christ. He loves fiercely and deeply. And he derived immeasurable joy from his beautiful wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was always singing a song, doing a little dance, telling a story, composing a poem, holding a child, and loving and cherishing Marjorie. He will be desperately missed by his family. He was the strong one who would always pick you up, lift you high, and hold you for as long as you needed it.
Cyclone was preceded in death by his beloved Marjorie who died December 4, 2014, and by his parents and siblings: Thelma (Ted), Lela, Jack, Con, Red (Rainy), Zeke (Erlene), and K. He is survived by his devoted children, Dr. John Tucker Davis, Pamela Lyn Mull (Gary), Kimberlee Davis Richards (Bob) and K's wife, Mary. He has 11 grandchildren here and one beyond the veil, 11 great grandchildren, as well as many beloved nieces and nephews.
Funeral Services will be held Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015 at 11:30 am at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hollowcrest Bldg. - 10962 N. 6400 W., Highland, UT 84003. Interment will follow the funeral service at the Highland Cemetery - 11000 N. 6100 W. (Timpanogos Hwy.). There will be a viewing Friday Evening, Nov. 6 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Hollowcrest Bldg. and also Sat., Nov. 7, from 10 - 11 a.m. before the service.
Special thanks to Melissa, Stefanie, Tom, Amber, South Mountain Dialysis, Drs. Goodman, Cline, Romney, Muhlestein, Hoyle, and the ICU staff at IMC.
Funeral Directors: Utah Valley Mortuary. Condolences may be expressed to the family at www.uvfuneral.com.
Published in Deseret News on Nov. 6, 2015
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