"Sgt. Rodney M. Davis:The Making of a Hero"

Book Cover


1940s & '50s,1960s & '70s

John D. Hollis

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Sgt. Davis was killed on Sept. 6, 1967 after lunging atop an enemy grenade to save fellow Marines during one of the nastiest fights of the Vietnam War. The action was notable because Davis was black and the Marines he saved were all white at a time when race was threatening to tear America apart.



Short Summary

Rodney Davis was tasked with looking after his siblings while growing up under the boot of Jim Crow in Macon, Ga. He would do anything to protect them against the prospect of violence or humiliation they faced every time they left their home.

Sgt. Davis died as he lived, looking out for his new brothers in the USMC by lunging atop an enemy grenade and stuffing it under his own body to spare their lives at the expense of his own during one of nastiest fights of the Vietnam War. All five Marines whose lives were spared were white.


Macon, Georgia (1950s and 1960s), London (1964-67) and Vietnam 1967

Based on a True Story


Plot - Premise


Plot - Other Elements

Meaningful Message,Coming of Age

Mature Audience Themes

Extreme Violence

Main Character Details

Name: Sgt. Rodney M. Davis

Age: 25 at the time of his death of Sept. 6, 1967

Gender: Female

Role: Protagonist

Key Traits: Patriotic,Selfless,Decisive,Leader,Honorable,Heroic,Strong Moral Code,Faithful,Masculine

Additional Character Details

The author has not yet written this

Additional Character Details

The author has not yet written this

Additional Character Details

The author has not yet written this

Development Pitch

The time of Sgt. Rodney M. Davis’ death in Vietnam on Sept. 6, 1967 was one of the most volatile in U.S. domestic history, with African-Americans like Davis ironically still being denied at home the very liberties they were fighting to defend thousands of miles away in Southeast Asia. More than 150 U.S. cities experienced costly and equally-as-destructive race riots that summer, and Jim Crow remained the law of the land in Davis’ hometown of Macon, Georgia as America slipped closer to anarchy than at any time since the Civil War. That Davis still chose to jump onto an enemy grenade at the critical moment and sacrifice his own life for five fellow Marines who just happened to be white speaks volumes about him, his principles and his unflinching courage even in the face of certain death. It takes a special man to fight for a country that has denied him full rights as a citizen, a more extraordinary one still to willingly lay down his own life for that country. Davis, however, didn’t care about color. The Marines sharing that trench with him were ALL his brothers, and he was no stranger to looking out after his own after coming of age in the Jim Crow South. Color had always been a contentious issue there, but it had no place along Vietnam’s frontlines, where each man depended on one another for survival no matter their race. Davis would do anything for the four siblings with whom he grew up, and would do no less for his Marine brothers in Vietnam.

About The Author

John D. Hollis lists 17 years of daily newspaper experience, including nearly 10 years at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a lengthy stint as a correspondent for Time Magazine. He has authored three books, including “Sgt. Rodney M. Davis: The Making of a Hero,” the 2018 hit that chronicles the inspirational life and death of the U.S. Marine who became Macon, Georgia’s lone Medal of Honor recipient following his death in Vietnam in 1967. In 2013, Hollis teamed with former professional wrestler Lex Luger to pen “Wrestling with the Devil: The True Story of a World Champion Professional Wrestler – His Reign, Ruin, and Redemption.” Over his career, Hollis has covered the Super Bowl, the Olympics, five college basketball Final Fours, the College World Series, the NBA and the NFL and major college football and basketball within both the ACC and SEC. The University of Virginia and Woodberry Forest School alum is currently working as the Communications Manager at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

Target Audiences

Age: 18-34,35-54,55+

Target Gender: Universal

Group Specific

Information not completed

Publishing Details

Status: Yes: with a Publisher

Publisher: Hugo House Publishing

Year Published: 2018

Hard Copy Available







Rodney Davis grows up in Georgia during the civil rights era protecting his family from racial injustices. He joins the USMC and despite facing racial discrimination within the military he perseveres and bonds with his fellow soldiers. Sgt. Davis and his comrades face a dangerous threat while fighting in Vietnam, eventually causing Davis to make the ultimate sacrifice and give his life to save the life of his comrades. Almost immediately following this tragedy, his comrades nominate him for a medal of honor which gets passed.

Overall Rating


Point of View


Narrative Elements

Authors Writing Style: GOOD

Characterization: GOOD

Commerciality: FAIR

Franchise Potential: FAIR

Pace: GOOD

Premise: FAIR

Structure: GOOD

Theme: GOOD

Accuracy of Book Profile

The book profile accurately reflects the book.

Draw of Story

The author's immediate contextualization of Sgt. Davis earning a medal of honor drew me into the story.

Possible Drawbacks

There was nothing in particular that made me want to put the book down.

Use of Special Effects


Primary Hook of Story

Witnessing the backstory of a person who serves as a Martyr during a time where people of the same ethnic background where discriminated against is interesting.

Fanbase Potential

If adapted, I could see this story having a moderate fanbase. Films based on true stories struggle to attract large audiences.

Awards Potential

Although there are strong themes about character, honor, and duty, I don't really see this story having awards potential unless the actors portraying the historical figures turn in great performances.

Envisioned Budget


Similar Films/TV Series


What’s New About the Story

The contextualization of Sgt. Davis' actions during the civil rights era is an unique way to tell the story of a recipient of a medal of honor.

Lead Characters

Sgt. Davis stands out as a real person of honor who does whatever it takes to protect the things he loves unconditionally despite the irony he will not receive the same treatment from others.

Uniqueness of Story

This is not quite a rare gem as similar stories with the same themes have been told, however, it is a story I feel should be told nonetheless.

Possible Formats

Film - Studio, Film - Streaming, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series

Analyst Recommendation



This has the potential to be a good biopic with resonant themes that are relevant even today. The only pitfall with this type of story is the handling of the story up until the climax of the story. When adapted, attention should be paid to the structure and pacing to avoid being "slow" or "boring".