'Real' Forrest Gump speaks in Jacksonville for Veterans Day

Army Veteran's story inspired part of hit movie

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — You may not know the name or the face, but you definitely know his story. Sammy Davis says he is the “real” Forrest Gump.

“The first things I ask a student is, 'Have you seen the movie "Forrest Gump?"' Davis said.

He said he uses that as his first line when he goes to speak to students about his service.

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“That’s my ‘in’ to the kids,” he said.

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Davis’ heroic efforts are played out in the 1994 classic, "Forrest Gump."

He said most of the film, except the running part, is based on him.

He does not run, he said, laughing.

He said producers incorporated the running scene because of what his kids said when they answered the house phone.

“Dad is out running to D.C.,” he said, referring to his travel. “So, that’s where he incorporated the running bit into it. No, I don’t run.”

In November 1967, Davis used a mattress to paddle across a river to save three men’s lives. He then continued to fight and eventually was hit in the back and buttocks — just like in the movie.

He was given the nation's highest military medal for valor, the Medal of Honor, and a Purple Heart.

“When they’re presenting him for the medal that’s my actual film footage.” Davis said. "They just put Tom’s face over mine.”

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When asked what made him risk his life for his those three men, he said it was because, while growing up, he was taught to always take care of his little brother.

“My mama was on my shoulder. She said ‘Sam Lee, don’t you leave your brother in the woods,’” Davis said. “So, I had to go get him.”

It has been years since the film debuted and finally, everyone gets to see the real face behind the movie character.

“Forrest, it is based on fact.” He said. “I just keep trying to help my brothers and sisters who served.”

He left us with this piece of advice to carry forward: “You don’t lose time with trying.”