Fort Riley’s former top NCO dies at 70

By The Mercury

Command Sgt. Maj. Fred W. Davenport, the 1st Infantry Division’s top noncommissioned officer during the first Gulf War, died Feb. 12 at age 70.

The sergeant major joined the Army on Jan. 14, 1964, serving tours to Korea and Vietnam as a combat engineer before leaving the service.

He re-entered the Army as an armored crewman and returned to Vietnam, eventually serving three assignments at Fort Riley before being named sergeant major.

Along with retired Maj. Gen. Thomas Rhame, Davenport led the division in Operation Desert Storm.

He retired in August 1994, then served as vice president of Pioneer Financial Services until January 2011.

He was active in the local and Fort Riley communities support Morale, Welfare and Recreation, the Association of the U.S. Army and the Society of the First Infantry Division.

Graveside services with full military honors were Feb. 21 at the Kansas Veterans’ Cemetery.

Sgt. Maj. Davenport was born in April 1942 in Jellico, Tenn.

Rhame said he interviewed other candidates for the top sergeant major position before meeting with Davenport, who was then serving as 2nd Brigade’s senior NCO.

“He would become my very closest confidant on matters affecting the Soldiers of the division or affecting the Fort Riley community,” Rhame said.

During the actual conduct of the war, Davenport moved with the Division Advance Command element and was there for all the engagements, Rhame said.

“He fought the war with me start to finish,” he said. “I thought we were a great command team.

“This man knew our soldiers and made their feeling know to all who would listen. He was a great caring and confident leader.”

Sgt. Major Davenport was the holder of the Army Service Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal w/Bronze Star, Army Lapel Button, Good Conduct Medal (9th AWD), Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal (2nd OLC), Meritorious Service Medal (3rd OLC), Army Commendation Medal (10th OLC), Army Achievement Medal (1st OLC), Overseas Service Ribbon “4”, Air Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal w/1 Silver and 1 Bronze Star, Southwest Asia Service Medal w/3 Bronze Stars, and the Kuwait Liberation Medal.

He married Virginia “Ginny” Herman Nov. 12, 1983, and she survives at the home in Wakefield.

Other survivors include his daughter, Kelly Devin of Junction City, Geoff Cavalier of Greeley, Colo., two sisters; Brenda Bryant of Edgewood, Ky. and Linda Stanford of Jellico, Tenn. and two grandchildren.

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