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Dead soldier's sister says he is her hero

September 20, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - Confronted with the reality that her brother's deployment in Iraq would run longer than expected, Theresa Hadley of Hagerstown comforted herself by planning parties for him and a sister-in-law she never met.

Weeks after Army Sgt. David J. Davis expressed disappointment that his tour was extended, his family is making funeral arrangements. According to the Pentagon, Davis, of Mount Airy, Md., died Sunday when a bomb blew up near his vehicle during combat operations in Sadr City.

He was 32 and newly married, Hadley said.

"I always said that I feel sorry for the families that lost somebody - they lost a brother, they lost a son - but my brother's coming home," said Hadley, as she talked about her brother Tuesday.

Dark circles shadowed her eyes.

Davis was assigned to the Army's 4th Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team stationed in Alaska, where Hadley said her brother met his wife.

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Davis was 29 when he joined the U.S. Army in 2003 after working as a printer and dump truck driver.

A volunteer for the fire department in Lisbon, Md., since he was 17, Davis dreamed of being a professional firefighter, Hadley said. He loved that each call was different and exciting, she said.

"It was his thing. He could have a good time, but when a call came through, he was serious," said Hadley, 36, who grew up with her brother and two other siblings in Howard County, Md.

As a medic, Davis served on patrols with other troops, Hadley said. When needed, he bandaged wounds and helped the injured, she said.

"Being a medic, he felt he needed to be there with those guys," she said.

Even so, Davis was upset when he learned he would not be coming home in July as planned. So was his family, Hadley said.

"They were packed up and ready to go, on the tarmac, and they were told their flight was delayed, and they were told again that it was diverted to Baghdad, and so his tour was extended," Hadley said.

An uncle to four girls and three boys, Davis was eager to come home, his sister said. His enlistment would have ended in February, she said.

He was the stepfather of three young children, she said.

At Hadley's home, one girl asked for green and yellow yarn to make bracelets in honor of the military. Hadley's daughters, ages 15 and 11, are struggling with the loss, she said.

Davis, a "cowboy" who was most comfortable wearing boots, jeans and a hat, was funny, and he liked doing imitations of characters such as Larry The Cable Guy, Hadley said.

His Dodge truck still is parked at her mother's house, she said.

Hadley's daughter, Amanda Lynn, was Davis' "little guitar," a play on the word mandolin, Hadley said. Davis was the girl's godfather.

"I told him to be safe, that he had to come home, and he always said, 'I'll be safe, don't worry about me,' and we didn't," Hadley said.

Hadley said she still sees her brother when she tries to sleep. She said she takes solace knowing that he helped others.

"My oldest daughter's uncle made a comment that I think fits perfect. He said he's sorry for her loss, but he's thankful for him ... I'm sorry that my brother's gone, but I also have to look at it as he's my hero, and he's doing what he did," Hadley said.

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