By Army Sgt. Ken Scar
7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Army Sgt. Richard Davies wanted to be an infantry sniper since he was 2 years old. It was a dream that stuck with him through the years as he grew up in Longview, Wash.
When he was 19, the 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 Davies needed to jump into the life he’d always wanted.
But although they were proud of his decision to join the military, his parents pleaded with him not to go in as an infantry soldier.
“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,’” Davies said. “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, ‘OK, just take me home then.’”
Grinning mischievously, he finished the story. “Five minutes later, they said, ‘Fine, we have your slot,’” he said.
But being an Army 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. 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 [roadside bombs], 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 Army Staff Sgt. Lucas White of Coffeyville, Kan., noncommissioned 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. Sergeant Davies performs very, very well.”
“The first time you see a casualty, it’s kind of rough,” Davies said. “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.”
White said Davies always is willing to volunteer for the most arduous missions. “He’s like a mountain man,” he said. “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 NCOs like him come into the Army.”
Davies’ mother said she wasn’t really worried when her son joined the Army. “He has always been very independent,” she said. “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 his current one behind him, Davies’ co-workers marvel at how he perpetuates a positive attitude despite the unavoidably heart-wrenching nature of his job.
“He’s a good morale-booster,” said Army Spc. Eusebio Cordero, who hails from Bradley Beach, N.J., and is the patient administrator for the Sharana medical treatment facility. “Whenever he comes in, it’s like ‘Awesome, Sergeant 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,” Davies’ mother confirmed. “He’s always been that kind of person.”
The best part of his job is saving lives, Davies said. “When you do that kind of stuff, you know you’ve [justified] your existence,” he added. “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 he’s had to work on alone.
The worst injury he’s treated was to an Afghan soldier wounded on a foot patrol, he said. “He took shrapnel through both his legs, and in his face,” Davies said. “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.”
Cordero said Davies is a great medic. “He’s the guy to go to when you need something done,” he added.
Davies said his time as an Army medic will be defined by the soldiers he’s saved and also by making his 4-year-old daughter, Delilah, proud.
“I want her to know everything about me so she doesn’t think I’m just making up stuff,” he said. “People think we come over here and don’t do anything, but we’re still getting blown up and shot at.”
Cordero said Davies is a good father. “He talks about [Delilah] a lot,” he said. “If she could know one thing about her dad, I would tell her he saves lives — he puts the Band-Aids on the boo-boos.”
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