Latest News

Asa Davison turns 100: He fought the Japanese and Jim Crow in WWII

MONONGAH – A bunch of people, Black and white, came out to help Asa Davison celebrate his 100th birthday Wednesday.

That breakdown of pigment is worth noting, because the man known as “Mr. Asa” is a World War II veteran who had to fight both the Japanese – and Jim Crow – during his life and times.

There were proclamations from senators and veteran groups bestowed upon him in that dining room at St. Barbara’s Memorial Nursing Home, during the rainy afternoon.

For the past couple of years, Asa and his wife, Delores, have called St. Barbara’s home.

Room 14, down the hall and to your left.

Monongah, the former coal camp in outlying Marion County where the facility is located, thrums with the persistence of memory.

There are still echoes of the devastating disaster at the Monongah Mine in 1907, a massive explosion that claimed as many as 500 lives, depending upon which historian you talk to.

Listen closely, and you also may hear the cheers from Nick Saban’s state championship season as the quarterback of the Monongah High Lions in 1968.

What people heard and felt Wednesday at St. Barbara’s was love for Asa – and Delores, too.  

Brian Davison smiled down at his dad, as he wheeled him to the dining room for the birthday party.

As the shells rained down on New Guinea during an afternoon 81 years ago, a Bible may have saved Asa’s life, so he could come home to marry Delores.

He was drafted two years after Pearl Harbor and shipped out to the South Pacific.

Asa crawled out of his foxhole and was promptly knocked flat on his back.

His chest hurt, but there was no blood.

The Bible he carried in his front pocket had a metal plate with his name engraved.

It was creased, by either shrapnel or a bullet.

“I never did figure it out,” Asa said. “I was blessed.”

Brian, who is now an engineer in Texas, comes home a lot these days to help his other siblings tend to his parents.

“Blessed,” is a good adjective to describe his upbringing, he said.

Racism could sting like a bullet, Brian said – but he never saw any rancor from his dad.

“He never complains,” he said, marveling. He never gets mad.”

After the proclamations were read, and after “Happy Birthday” was sung and the cake cut, it was just Asa and Delores. They recently celebrated their 73rd anniversary.

“Asa, I love you.”

“I love you, baby. You’re my girl.”