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.
For decades, families lovingly maintained the graves. The Davis family, which kept Rodney's plot free of grass and weeds for many years, participates in cemetery work days.
"It's about your integrity and history," says Edgar Ray, a schoolteacher and Rodney Davis' nephew. "We used to do this as a family event on Saturday. I learned to use the lawn mower and Weed Eater down here."
By the late 1970s, many African-American families started moving away from Pleasant Hill, which had been severed by I-75. Pride in the neighborhood eroded, and it became known for crime and drug use, even in Linwood Cemetery. One street is dubbed "Bucket of Blood" because of violence.
As is the case in many cemeteries, the years have been unkind to Linwood. Without full-time, professional maintenance, markers and monuments sank into the ground. Some of the acreage is now forested, the undergrowth almost impenetrable.
"Unless you had a family come over and care for (a site), it wasn't happening," says Debra Ray, Rodney's younger sister. She lives in the family home on Neal Avenue, less than a mile from the cemetery.
Amir Hassan, a community activist, said it isn't that people in Pleasant Hill don't care about the burial ground. "It has left their consciousness."
The Davis family at one point was asked whether they wanted Rodney reinterred at Arlington. They declined. "Mother would say if Rodney wasn't there nobody would care about the cemetery," says Ray.
The city eventually declared 14-acre Linwood Cemetery "abandoned and neglected."
The last private owner put little effort into maintenance, according to a preservation plan prepared for the city of Macon and the nonprofit group, formed a decade ago, that now cares for the cemetery.
The Macon Cemetery Preservation Corp. faces mammoth challenges, from groundskeeping to fund-raising. The few dozen hardy volunteers know that making Linwood a neighborhood asset again will take time.