Davis was a pro. His gear was always in order.
"He didn't talk loud, but he got things done," says Posey, who was wounded twice in Vietnam. "Everything was always done before I asked him."
Walking into an ambush
In early September 1967, the Marine battalion participated in Operation SWIFT, slugging it out with husky and well-equipped North Vietnamese troops.
Just a few weeks into his tour of duty, Davis' company left its position to assist another company that had been overwhelmed by a larger enemy force during a search-and-destroy mission. The next few days brought a whirl of firefights and counterattacks.
The sergeants dug a defensive hole one evening and shared some time together. "It was the first time we ever had time to talk to each other and find out who we were," Posey says.
On September 6, the company "walked into the largest U-shaped ambush I have ever seen," according to Petrous. The Marines were outnumbered by about three to one. "We drew back because we were in a very tenuous position."
"Disregarding the enemy hand grenades and high volume of small arms and mortar fire," the Medal of Honor citation reads, "Sergeant Davis moved from man to man shouting words of encouragement to each of them while firing and throwing grenades at the onrushing enemy."
Posey heard the thud of one grenade hitting the ground. Davis acted without hesitation.
"I see Rodney crawling on the bottom of the trench, pulling the hand grenade underneath himself."
The Marine absorbed "with his body the full and terrific force of the explosion," his medal citation reads.
Davis, who died instantly, saved several comrades from serious injury or death. He was 25 years old.
"He saved my life. That sounds stupid I suppose, but he did," says Posey. "You try to rationalize in this situation. He saved it for just that one moment. I could have been killed a thousand times after that. He gave me a chance to continue, and I used that chance to continue."
The Marines knew they could not hold the position at dark and moved back 40 to 50 yards to set up a new line. About 90 Marines, including another Medal of Honor recipient, died in Operation SWIFT. Enemy dead was estimated at 600.
All the men Davis saved were white. But race was not an issue for Davis' family or fellow Marines.
"There is not white, black, red and yellow here," says Nicholas Warr, who directed the monument effort for the 1/5 Vietnam Veterans Association. "Our job is to take care of each other."
Hellish memories of Vietnam remain etched in the minds of the Marines who served with and after Davis. Posey got out of the service less than a year after Operation SWIFT.
The retired businessman, grandfather and great-grandfather still speaks with some difficulty about Vietnam, although he eventually found some peace. "You have to think 30 years before you bring your thoughts together."
Posey visited his ill mother before she passed away earlier this year.
"She kind of got upset because I hadn't talked to Rodney's mom," Posey says, wiping his eyes. "She thought I should have done that. Yeah, I could only agree with her. I didn't have the courage when it was needed."
Rodney Davis could have been buried in Arlington National Cemetery but his late mother, Ruth Davis, wanted her son to be buried in Linwood, in a plot near family.
The cemetery, established in 1894, tells the story of Macon's African-American community. About 4,000 people are buried there, including Buffalo Soldiers; Spanish-American War veterans; Jefferson Long, the first African-American from Georgia to serve in Congress, and businessman Charles Douglass, founder of the Douglass Theater.
"These are the backs Macon was built on," says volunteer groundskeeper Greg Smith.
Linwood, then in private hands, opened more than 90 years before Georgia required cemetery operators to provide perpetual care.