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We are the Modern Knights Templar, an Ecumenical Christian and Chivalric charitable Order. We do not claim a direct lineage to the original Knights of the Temple, but we do seek to emulate their positive attributes in our daily lives today. We have adopted two of the original Templar missions of Protecting Christians at Risk particularly in the Holy Land and the Middle East and in Keeping the Road to Jerusalem open to all people as our own.


Affiliated with the International Order (OSMTH)

 

 

 

 

The conditions faced by the Christian population across the Middle East are important for caring Christians around the world to understand. Major media outlets too often provide us, however, with an incomplete (and sometimes inaccurate) account of events there and their causes. We present herewith a collection of well-written articles on the Christian situation to help broaden your understanding of this important subject. Articles reflect the authors’ research and opinions, not those of SMOTJ.


Echoes of Honor, Service, and Sacrifice.

The Inspiring Life Behind the Name of the Raymond Davis Templar Foundation
 
The charitable foundation of the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (SMOTJ), Autonomous Grand Priory of the United States (GPUSA), came into being in 2010. Established with The Stella French Nursing Scholarship funded by Dame Rita Hamilton in honor of her mother, Stella French, the foundation saw immediately the potential to expand its reach and change the lives of Christian students in the Holy Land.
 
As the Order’s charitable arm for the Grand Priory, the Raymond Davis Templar Foundation (RDF) manages and administers what became the SMOTJ Scholarship Program. The goal of this program is to provide young Christians a better opportunity for a quality education that would lead to stable employment, and in many cases extended training through a university education. As the program grew, so did its impact. The range of academic disciplines now includes general and vocational studies for secondary school students, with health care, information technology, and hospitality services a focus for continued education at the university level. These fields offer steady employment and lead to satisfying and rewarding work and the means for students to remain in their homeland while contributing to the support of their families.
 
As the Charitable Foundation transitioned from an idea toward a viable entity, it became clear that it needed a name to anchor its purpose and reflect the ideals of Templar chivalry and philanthropy. The Foundation didn’t have to look far to find inspiration not only for its name, but for its mission.
 
Raymond G. Davis was a Marine who rose through the ranks and retired as a full, Four-Star General. He fought in World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his exceptional bravery in Korea.
 
He fought at Guadalcanal and Peleliu Island, which earned him the Navy Cross for leading his men into the face of Japanese cannon fire, preventing a vital American position from being overrun. He led a badly depleted marine battalion across the country in Korea in a forty-below-zero snowstorm over three mountain ridges, to relieve a beleaguered Marine company holding a vital mountain pass.
 
Ray fought with his men against wave after wave of attacking Chinese soldiers for three days to give his regiment some much-needed rest, and to allow army units to escape possible annihilation. President Harry S. Truman hung the Medal of Honor around then Lt. Col. Davis’ neck for his extraordinary heroism.
 
He commanded the Third Marine Division in Vietnam, for which he was awarded one of his two Distinguished Service Medals to be worn alongside his two Silver Stars, two Legions of Merit, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
 
These extraordinary accomplishments notwithstanding, Ray Davis was more than a marine. He was also a deeply spiritual man who became a Templar, first through the Order of Merit, then as a full knight who had conferred upon him the dignity of Grand Croix. He was an extraordinary human being. Recognized as a genuine war hero, he was also a loving husband, devoted father, Sunday school teacher, and concerned citizen who spent his retirement years serving veterans throughout the United States. It could not have been more appropriate to name the Order’s Charitable Foundation for him. 
 
The impetus for sharing these details about Ray Davis’ life lies in a recent article published by the Veterans of Foreign Wars in VFW Magazine (Nov/Dec 2020) detailing his contributions to a military victory at the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War. Written by Richard “Dick” Camp, “The Toktong Ridgerunners” is reprinted in its entirety with the gracious permission of the VFW. Ray’s distinguished service through that campaign is but one example of Templar virtues that resonate through Ray’s life, underscoring the Charitable Foundation’s choice to associate its work with Ray’s lifetime of selfless service.
 
Born to Raymond Roy Davis and Zelma Tribby in Fitzgerald, Georgia in 1915, Raymond Gilbert Davis graduated from Georgia Tech University in 1938. He never lost his interest in education, whether his own, that of his family, or for others in his community. He saw to it that his children and grandchildren were motivated to seek the highest amount of learning available to them and encouraged others to do the same. In his retirement Ray was active in local school affairs, leading the School Board of Rockdale County, Georgia to name one of its newly built facilities the “General Raymond Davis Middle School” shortly after his death.
 
While in college Ray was a member of the US Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps unit. After graduation, he resigned his commission in the US Army Infantry Reserve to accept appointment as a Marine Corps 2nd lieutenant on June 27, 1938. His military career was both storied and decorated, highlighted by acts of heroism and leadership worthy of the recognition he received.
 
Ray was a kind, loving husband to the love of his life, the former Willa Knox Heafner, who he married in 1942, and with whom he enjoyed an enduring love throughout their sixty-year marriage. He was also a devoted father. Ray was a Boy Scout and Explorer Scout leader for his sons, coached their Little League and Babe Ruth teams, and was an active parent with his daughter’s Brownie and Girl Scout activities. He taught his children to fish, and to hunt everything from rabbits to deer. He was a source of inspiration to his children during challenging times and provided comfort in difficulty.
 
Ray never forgot the sacrifice of his fellow veterans and their survivors. He worked tirelessly to inspire them in their civilian endeavors and ensured that they received the assistance and recognition they had earned in service to their country.
 
Above all, Ray Davis was a man of God who honored the Lord at home and in the field. He took his family to church and made sure his children attended Sunday school. He spent twenty years during his retirement teaching at what his son, Miles, called the “Blue-Haired Ladies Sunday School Class” at Conyers United Methodist Church.

Ray was introduced to SMOTJ by Doug and Sylvia Talley, who recommended that he be inducted into the Order of Merit.  The nomination was widely celebrated within the Order and on April 8th, 1998, Ray was inducted into the prestigious Order of Merit at the rank of Grand Cordon.  He is one of only three people to ever be so honored. Later, at his specific request, he was also brought into the Order as a regular member. In 2003, only 5 months before his death, he was elevated to the dignity of Grand Croix. Ray was an honored member of the Priory of the Holy Rood in Atlanta.
 
Since its inception in 2010 the SMOTJ scholarship Program has grown from 2 students to 116 high school students and 23 university students in the present academic year. Each scholarship is personally sponsored by individual Knights & Dames or by a Priory. The annual cost of the scholarship program is now over $245,000. We believe that General Davis would be proud of what has been accomplished in his name! It is a great honor for the Grand Priory to not only have the family’s permission to use the name of General Raymond G. Davis for our charitable Foundation, but to also have the General’s son, Miles, as an active member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.
 
The Honorable Chev. Miles Davis, Esquire, CMTJ, GOTJ, CAPT Chev. Keith Larson, GCTJ, GMTJ, Grand Prior XVII, and the Reverend Chvse. Anne Fraley, SCTJ contributed to this article.
 

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