PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan (2/28/2012) – U.S. Army Sgt. Richard Davies wanted to be soldier, specifically, an infantry sniper, since he was 2 years old. It was a dream that stuck with him through the years as he grew up up in Longview, Wash.
U.S. Army Sgt. Richard Davies, a medic for Company C, 122nd Aviation Support Battalion, Task Force Blackhawk, and a native of Longview, Wash., sits on the bumper of one of the emergency vehicles used by the Forward Operating Base Sharana medical treatment facility, March 20, 2012. Photo by Army Sgt. Ken Scar
| ||As fate would have it, when he was 19, the U.S. Army came calling – for his younger brother, Spencer.|
“Richard was at home, being a 19-year-old, doing nothing,” said his mom, Tammy Davies. “[An Army recruiter] called for our other son, Spencer. My husband had answered the phone and said, Spencer isn't here right now do you want to talk to Richard?”
That serendipitous phone call was just the push he needed to jump into the life he'd always wanted.
Although they were proud of his decision to join the military, his parents pleaded with him not to go in as an infantry grunt.
“My parents talked me out of it at the last second. I was getting ready to join the infantry and they said, ‘you're going to go to Iraq and get shot and come back with no education,'” said Davies. “So I fought to become a medic. I went to the recruiter's office and they said they didn't have a slot for that – but they had plenty of infantry, tanker and forward observer positions. I said, ‘okay just take me home then.'”
He grins mischievously as he tells the story, “Five minutes later they said, ‘fine we have your slot.'”
Being an Amy medic is not exactly a job that keeps a soldier out of the line of fire. As a member of Company C, 122nd Aviation Support Battalion, Task Force Blackhawk, Davies has seen the worst of war more often than most front-line infantrymen. Fit and chipper as a star high school quarterback, Davies has a natural exuberance that serves him well in the field.
“I'm out with somebody else every month,” he said. “Doing supply routes, route clearances, finding IED's, helping to revamp aid stations at the little [combat outposts] I go to, working in combat support hospitals. Out where I've been going, we get mortared on almost all the missions. It gets crazy sometimes.”
Nine months into his deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, he's seen his share of wounded troops, both U.S. and Afghan.
“He's treated a lot of [Afghan] counterparts for combat casualties,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Lucas White, of Coffeyville, Kan., non-commissioned officer in charge of the Sharana medical treatment facility. “You have to be autonomous out here, and be able to make quick and competent decisions. Sgt. Davies performs very, very well.”
“The first time you see a casualty, it's kind of rough,” explained Davies, “But I've been doing it for two years. I have no feeling towards the [blood and guts] any more. The soldiers are strong dudes. They're out there doing their job and get hit – it sucks. The more I can do for them the better.”
“He's always willing to volunteer for the most arduous missions,” said White. “He's like a mountain man. Back home he'd hike up into the mountains of Washington and stay there for days at a time. He's a hard charger. I hope more NCO's like him come into the Army.”
“As his mom, I really wasn't worried [when he joined the Army],” said Mrs. Davies. “He has always been very independent. He once took off for three months and hitchhiked down to Montana, just to do it, and he was fine.”
Davies takes great pride in his profession, she added. “Whenever he puts his uniforms on, his regular one or his Class A's, they have to be perfect before he'll go out.”
With one deployment to Iraq and three quarters of the current one behind him, his co-workers marvel at how Davies perpetuates a positive attitude despite the unavoidably heart-wrenching nature of his job.
“He's a good morale-booster,” said Spc. Eusebio Cordero, who hails from Bradley Beach, N.J., and is the patient administrator for the Sharana MTF. “Whenever he comes in it's like ‘Awesome, Sgt. Davies is here!'”
“He's totally professional. He always has a smile on his face – even when he's angry. It's weird,” he added, laughing.
“He does tend to laugh a lot,” confirmed his mom. “He's always been that kind of person.”
“The best part of the job is saving lives,” said Davies. “When you do that kind of stuff you know you've [justified] your existence. You feel like you're doing something way above yourself.”
He might get such a thrill from saving lives because he has such a knack for it.
While he's been part of a team of medics that has treated casualties who did not pull through, he said he's never lost a patient that he's had to work on alone.
“The worst injury I've treated is a guy who got hit by an IED – an [Afghan National Army] guy who was on a walking patrol,” he said. “He took shrapnel through both his legs, and in his face. He had brain damage. His eyes were staring off in different directions, but I patched him up as best as I could and a few minutes later he got pupil response. He was talking in about 20 minutes.”
“He's a great medic. He's the guy to go to when you need something done,” said Cordero.
For Davies, his time as an Army medic will be defined by the soldiers he's saved, and also by making his four-year-old daughter, Delilah, proud.
“I want her to know everything about me – so she doesn't think I'm just making up stuff,” said Davies. “People think we come over here and don't do anything, but we're still getting blown up and shot at.”
“He's a good father,” said Cordero. “He talks about [Delilah] a lot. If she could know one thing about her dad, I would tell her he saves lives – he puts the Band-Aids on the booboos.”
By Army Sgt. Ken Scar
7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Provided through DVIDS
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