On Friday, President Joe Biden awarded the Medal of Honor to Paris D. Davis, a retired colonel in the U.S. Army, for his heroic rescue of fellow soldiers during the Vietnam War.

By awarding Davis the nation’s highest military honor, Biden recognized the Army veteran’s extraordinary service and began to set right a long history of Black soldiers like Davis being overlooked for their service and bravery.

The incident for which Davis received the Medal of Honor occurred in June 1965 in Bong Son, Vietnam, and sounds like the script of an action movie. Rising the ranks within the Army, Davis was, at the time of the 1965 firefight, a captain and one of the first Black men to lead a Special Forces team. In this role, Davis and three other Americans led a group of South Vietnamese troops in an attack against North Vietnamese forces, but the Americans and their allies soon found themselves in trouble.

Davis, while calling in for backup against a North Vietnamese force of several hundred fighters, continued to battle while risking his life to save each of his three fellow American soldiers wounded in the fight. One by one, Davis pulled the soldiers to safety and continued to fight using several weapons and hand-to-hand combat while others treated their wounds. Davis was shot, beaten and wounded during this time from a grenade explosion. At one point, he had to fire his rifle using his pinky finger after the grenade blast damaged his hand, according to a report about the fight. Yet, as President Biden noted when giving Davis his medal, by the time the battle was over, Davis “had saved each one of his fellow Americans — every single one.”

As CNN reported, Davis has achieved many firsts and received many honors throughout his career. After the 1965 battle, Davis served two more decades in the Army, earning such honors as the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He retired in 1985 with the rank of colonel. In 2019, he was inducted into the Army Ranger Hall of Fame. However, throughout this time, the Medal of Honor remained the major award Davis never received. In addition, the paperwork associated with his nomination was lost on two separate occasions, a coincidence that some have attributed to racial bias.

Biden called Davis to let him know he would finally receive the Medal of Honor. Far from being bitter at the delay in recognition, Davis reportedly told the president that “America was behind me.” During the ceremony, Biden proclaimed the day he awarded Davis the Medal of Honor “may be the most consequential day” of his presidency.

Davis’ story is extraordinary, not only for his heroics in 1965 but for his decades of service and sacrifice for a country that often did not treat him fairly or recognize his accomplishments. His receipt of the Medal of Honor thus represents a personal achievement and a small measure of progress for the United States in its recognition of Black soldiers and citizens.