Gretchen Charlene Davis was born in Conway, South Carolina, in 1943, and grew up in Pollocksville, North Carolina. She graduated from Jones Central High School in 1961 and then studied home economics at Woman’s College (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro), graduating in 1965. Her first job was with the North Carolina Extension Service in Elizabeth City and then Plymouth, North Carolina. In 1968, Davis entered East Carolina University to get her master’s degree in education, guidance and counseling. While at ECU, she also taught home economics at Southern Nash Senior High School in Bailey, North Carolina, where she continued to teach after completing her degree in 1970.
In 1972, while working for the North Carolina Employment Security Commission, Davis applied for the Women’s Army Corps. She joined as a first lieutenant and went to basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama, in 1973. She then went to Quartermaster School at Fort Lee, Virginia, where she was executive officer of her company. Davis was then assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia, where she worked in Food Service for the Directorate of Industrial Operations. In 1975, she began working for the 1st Advanced Infantry Training (AIT) Brigade. She was promoted to captain and in January 1977, attended advanced class at Fort Lee. Davis then did a one-year tour at Camp Red Cloud in Korea.
After returning from Korea in 1978, Davis went to the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and worked in logistics. She stayed there until 1981, when she went to Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, for Adjutant General School. She then served at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and from 1985 to 1993 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, doing logistics support for the 18th Airborne. During that time, Davis spent six months in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm, six months on temporary duty at Little Creek Naval Base, Virginia, for Exercise Solid Shield, and a few weeks in the Mojave Desert for Exercise Gallant Eagle in 1986. Davis retired from the army with the rank of major in 1993 and moved to New Bern, North Carolina. She died on 10 May 2013.