Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis

Deerfield, Florida

November 25, 2008

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
43 Army MSgt

Military Transition Team, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division

Fort Riley, Kansas

 Killed in Baaj, Iraq, after being shot by an Iraqi Security Force soldier while he was conducting a dismounted humanitarian food drop.

MSgt Anthony Davis MSgt Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis trained and mentored Iraqi army members and delivered food and relief supplies to poor villages. He was part of a team that assessed schools and then planned renovations and organized supplies. His daughter Diana, 18, also collected soccer balls to ship to her father, who distributed them to children on his missions. "Anthony volunteered for humanitarian assistance duty so he could devote himself to the soccer ball plan and really reach out to the surrounding Iraqi communities in need of assistance," said Joe Albuquerque of the Kerril Woods Homeowner''s Association. "That''s the Anthony we knew and loved." Davis, 43, reared in Baltimore and lately of Triangle, Va., died Nov. 24 in Baaj after being shot by an Iraqi soldier while on a relief mission. He was assigned to Fort Riley. "We must remain vigilant and pray that we a getting through to the younger generation, who will one day inherit this nation, so that they remember us as peaceful and encouraging not intruders and invaders," Davis wrote in an e-mail. He is survived by his wife, Anna; five children between the ages of 9 and 26; and a 4-year-old grandson.
By Stephen Kiehl 
Courtesy of The Baltimore Sun 
29 November 2008
An Army Master Sergeant who grew up in Baltimore and graduated from St. Frances Academy was killed Tuesday while distributing food on a humanitarian mission in Biaj, Iraq, the Department of Defense said.

Master Sergeant Anthony Davis, 43, had served in the Army for 26 years and was planning to retire when his tour ended, said his brothers and sisters, who gathered yesterday in Baltimore's Harwood neighborhood to remember the man who loved the Army so much they called him " G.I. Joe."

Anthony Davis PHOTO

Sergeant Davis was married and had five children and one grandchild. Living in the town of Triangle in Northern Virginia, his life was intertwined with the military. His wife, Anna Davis, is an Army Major based at the Pentagon. And his 26-year-old daughter, Keona Rowe, also has served.

"He died doing what he loved to do," said Adrienne Kelly, Sergeant Davis' sister. She said her brother, one of 17 children, didn't talk about the dangers he faced in Iraq. He didn't want the family to worry.

On this tour, which began in May, Sergeant Davis trained and mentored Iraqi army members and delivered food and relief supplies to poor villages. He was part of a team that assessed schools and then planned renovations and organized supplies. His daughter Diana, 18, collected soccer balls to ship to her father, who distributed them to children on his missions.

This month, the News & Messenger newspaper in Northern Virginia published an article about the father-daughter effort.

In an e-mail to the paper, Sergeant Davis wrote, "We must remain vigilant and pray that we a[re] getting through to the younger generation, who will one day inherit this nation, so that they remember us as peaceful and encouraging, not intruders and invaders."

On Tuesday, Sergeant Davis was distributing water and food in Biaj, about 250 miles north of Baghdad, when he was shot and killed by an Iraqi security force soldier, the Defense Department said. Some news reports have indicated that a U.S. Marine (Captain Warren A. Frank) was also killed and that several Iraqi civilians in line for relief supplies were injured, but an Army spokesman could not confirm that yesterday.

"He was Army in every sense of the word," said Jorge Tardi, Sergeant Davis' brother-in-law. "He believed in our effort over there in Iraq. It wasn't just a job. It wasn't just a benefit. It wasn't just hardship pay. He was a patriot."

Sergeant Davis' family learned of his death Wednesday. The large family usually comes together for Thanksgiving every year, but his sister said they didn't have the energy for it this time.

"We couldn't bring ourselves to cook. I couldn't get out of bed," said Ms. Kelly. She remembered going to her brother's house in Virginia for Thanksgiving last year, when he barbecued. When Sergeant Davis couldn't make it home for Thanksgiving, he would send everyone cards, she said.

Felicia Kelly-Crum, another sister, said her brother called her several weeks ago to make sure he had everyone's addresses. They expect to be getting the cards any day now.

"He was good-hearted. He always looked out for us," said Rudolph Davis, who would often bowl with his brother when he visited home. It was important to Sergeant Davis that his family be together, his siblings said.

In summer 2007, after his mother's death, he organized a family reunion at Fort Meade. He rented a bus to pick up family members who didn't have cars. At a park on the base, more than 200 relatives swam, played horseshoes and softball, and took turns in a dunking tank, said Ms. Kelly.

"My mom would have been proud of him," she said.

Family members say Sergeant Davis had been planning to retire when he passed his 25-year mark in the service. He agreed to one more tour in Iraq, though, before coming home to spend time with his family.

In addition to daughters Keona and Diana, Sergeant Davis has two sons, Jeral, 20, and Mark Anthony, 9; another daughter, Kayla, 17; and a grandson, 4.

"He had given the Army all his time," said sister Verna Davis, "and he was ready to retire."
Close-knit family buries soldier killed in Iraq 
By Stephen Kiehl 
Courtesy of The Baltimore Sun 
9 December 2008 

The charter bus was parked on Barclay Street, its engine running, as members of the large Kelly-Davis family piled in for a trip like none they had ever taken together.

Felicia Kelly-Crum was outside counting heads in the frigid air. "Where's Bernard?" she asked. "Where's Bernard?"

A rueful smile crossed her face. This was usually the job of her brother, Anthony Davis, who was so good at rounding up the family for an adventure. But two weeks ago, Davis, father of five and Master Sergeant in the Army, had been killed in Iraq. This family trip was to Dumfries, Virginia, for his funeral and Arlington National Cemetery for his burial.

Sergeant Davis grew up in East Baltimore with 16 brothers and sisters. A dozen of them still live in the city, with their children and grandchildren. Kelly-Crum wanted them all to attend, but many lacked cars. 


She was pricing buses and vans last week when the Central Maryland chapter of the American Red Cross called and offered help. The Red Cross contacted Morgan's Bus Co. of Upper Marlboro, which provided a bus and a driver for free. The Red Cross also bought a block of rooms at the Super 8 Motel in Dumfries.

That meant anyone who wanted to go could go. And everyone wanted to go. Some 50 family members boarded the bus on Monday afternoon for the journey. They thought of when Sergeant Davis rented a bus to take them all to a family reunion at Fort Meade last year.

"He never wanted to exclude anyone," Kelly-Crum, 39, said of her older brother, who was 43 when he was killed while distributing food and water to residents of the town of Biaj. "That's been his and mine - to keep the family together. If you keep branching off here and there, where's the history? We started off so close when we were younger, and we stayed close."

After the Lord's Prayer and a moment of silence for Sergeant Davis, and Bernard Davis' arrival, the bus was on its way.

While the children watched Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and ate from the snack packages provided by the Red Cross (fruit snacks, Chex mix, animal crackers), the adults reflected on Sergeant Davis, who had spent 26 years in the military and had decided, they said, that this tour would be his last.

"He was well-loved by the little ones and he held the big ones together," said George Lacey, 68, a brother-in-law who bowled with him every time he came home on leave. Sergeant Davis lived in Triangle, Virginia, with his wife, Anna, an Army major, and his four youngest children, ages 20 to 9.

He deployed to Iraq in May as part of a team that trained and mentored Iraqi army members and delivered food and relief supplies to villages. He helped rebuild schools and, with his 18-year-old daughter, Diana, organized a shipment of soccer balls from the United States to be distributed to Iraqi children. He always volunteered for the humanitarian missions, fellow soldiers said.

"He was aware of the dangers, but he wanted to give hope to the Iraqi people," Major General David B. Lacquement said at the funeral Monday night at First Mount Zion Baptist Church in Dumfries. "Tony was truly selfless. He believed the key to winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people was through the children."

Sergeant Davis' flag-draped casket was at the front of the church, surrounded by dozens of red poinsettias and a nativity scene set out for Christmas. Lacquement presented Anna Davis with her husband's second Bronze Star, symbolized by an oak leaf cluster, and the Purple Heart, among other citations and medals he had received.

After joining the Army in 1982, Sergeant Davis served in both Gulf Wars, Afghanistan and posts all over the world. His siblings said he loved the military, but he also cherished his time at home. He would spend hours bowling or fishing with his family, and when he called home he always asked after his relatives before ever talking about himself.

It didn't stop them from worrying, though.

"I used to watch the TV every day to see if my brother's name was going to be on there," said Albert Kelly, 36. He woke up with that thought in his head, and turned on the news every morning at 6, fearing the worst. After his brother was killed November 25, the family learned the next day and notified one another in a series of phone calls.

Their mother, the late Ida Davis-Kelly, often had the children volunteer at St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, where they went to school, and that spirit carried over into Sergeant Davis' humanitarian work in Iraq.

"That was how our mother raised us," Albert Kelly said, sitting in the lobby of the Super 8, waiting for the bus before the funeral. "So him doing that was no surprise."

After the two-hour service, the family hardly had time to sleep before the bus arrived at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday. Driver Barry Taylor, who owns Morgan's bus company and volunteered himself for the job, drove the family to the Baptist church to join a 15-car motorcade.

Led by eight police motorcycles, the motorcade took Interstate 95 to the burial. Even though it was rush hour, the highway was shut down briefly while the procession made its way to the entrance of an HOV lane. Dozens of police cruisers and motorcycles then stopped traffic along the 25-mile route.

"Everything that they do - they owe my brother this," Kevin Kelly said.

The Washington Monument came into view, and then the Pentagon, the side that was hit by American Flight 77 on Sept. 11, and at last Arlington National Cemetery. In a family waiting room, a niece was making a video. She walked around with her camera, asking family members to speak about her Uncle Tony. "Tell him I love you," said his sister Barbara Flowers. "You kept peace in the family and I love you so much."

Another sister, Cynthia Davis-Lacey, and Sergeant Davis' oldest daughter, Keona Lowe, were presented with folded American flags. Davis-Lacey said she would keep it in a glass case, with an engraving bearing her brother's name, in the dining room of her home on Barclay Street.

Later, under overcast skies at the grave site, soldiers firing a salute and a bugler standing amid the rows of modest headstones honored Sergeant Davis. His widow was presented the crisply folded flag that had draped her husband's coffin. The secretary of the Army, Pete Geren, knelt down to offer condolences. Then Anna Davis, her children, and Sergeant Davis' brothers and sisters led a long line of mourners who tossed white carnations onto the coffin before it was lowered into the earth.

The relatives from Baltimore filed back on the bus. They drove first to Dumfries, where the church provided lunch, and then began the long ride home. Some people slept, and some no doubt dreamed of the brother they would not see again.
Master sergeant worked to help poor Iraqis

The Associated Press

Anthony Davis trained and mentored Iraqi army members and delivered food and relief supplies to poor villages. He was part of a team that assessed schools and then planned renovations and organized supplies.

His daughter Diana, 18, also collected soccer balls to ship to her father, who distributed them to children on his missions.

“Anthony volunteered for humanitarian assistance duty so he could devote himself to the soccer ball plan and really reach out to the surrounding Iraqi communities in need of assistance,” said Joe Albuquerque of the Kerril Woods Homeowner’s Association.

“That’s the Anthony we knew and loved.”

Davis, 43, reared in Baltimore and lately of Triangle, Va., died Nov. 24 in Baaj after being shot by an Iraqi soldier while on a relief mission. He was assigned to Fort Riley.

“We must remain vigilant and pray that we a getting through to the younger generation, who will one day inherit this nation, so that they remember us as peaceful and encouraging not intruders and invaders,” Davis wrote in an e-mail.

He is survived by his wife, Anna, and five children between the ages of 9 and 26 and a 4-year-old grandson.
From The New York Times nytimes.com 05/06/09:

Ambush by an Ally Chills Trust in Iraqi Units

By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON and STEPHEN FARRELL
BAAJ, Iraq — When the gunfire broke out, Capt. Sean K. Keneally scrambled over to Master Sgt. Anthony Davis, who was lying flat on his back, and dragged him to a nearby building.

It was too late. Sergeant Davis, a member of a small team of American military advisers embedded with an Iraqi Army battalion in this remote town, was dead. Minutes later, Captain Keneally learned that a soldier in that battalion, with whom the advisers had lived and worked for months, had killed him.

The shock set in, and so did the new reality. “The force that is providing us the security,” Captain Keneally said, “is one of the main threats.”

The slayings of Sergeant Davis and a Marine, Capt. Warren A. Frank, in November were not the only times Iraqis in uniform had attacked American soldiers. Military officials have counted seven such deaths in northern Iraq in the last six months, including two soldiers killed on Saturday at a combat outpost south of Mosul.

But this episode has particular resonance because Sergeant Davis and his team were the heart of the changing American military mission in Iraq. With most soldiers leaving by August 2010, those remaining will be working primarily as advisers to the Iraqi forces, and their security will be ever more reliant on something as intangible as trust.

“American advisory teams are going to be spread more widely and spread more thinly across Iraq, and so the teams are going to be at higher risk,” said John A. Nagl, a retired lieutenant colonel who trained such teams and is now president of the Center for a New American Security, a Washington policy organization.

Military transition teams, which have been embedding with Iraqi forces since 2004, are just one type of the small advisory units that have become a major ingredient of counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are currently 182 such teams in Iraq, accounting for slightly more than 2,000 people mentoring and supporting Iraqi forces like the police and the border patrol.

Brig. Gen. Keith C. Walker, the commander of the Iraqi Assistance Group, which oversees the transition teams, said that the shift to an advisory mission for American forces would mean changes to the way these teams worked, and that they would be integrated more fully into the rest of the military presence.

But he acknowledged that there was only so much that could be done to prevent such attacks.

“There are always fringe elements or rogue elements that are there, and that risk is always present,” he said. “But as transition teams build relationships with their Iraqi comrades, I would just argue that the risk and uncertainty goes down. I wouldn’t say it’s gone.”

The team working with the Second Battalion of the 11th Brigade of the Third Iraqi Army Division, Sergeant Davis’s team, shared the general’s outlook. Most of the 11 officers on the team lived four days a week on an Iraqi Army base, forming close ties with the Iraqi officers.

“The intel that we got was that insurgents are throwing down their arms and they were joining Iraqi security forces because they were able to make more money,” said Capt. Derek Daly, a 29-year-old from Miami who was the team’s intelligence officer.

“It seemed like we were on the same page,” he said. “You know, we trusted the Iraqi Army.”

On the morning of last Nov. 25, the advisory team, along with several visiting Marines, some Iraqi soldiers and police officers and a collection of village elders, had gathered in a walled-off courtyard to hand out rice and flour to people in the town.

Shortly before the gates were to open, gunfire erupted. Sergeant Davis, 43, a father of five, and Captain Frank, a father of two, took the brunt of the attack. Two Marine officers were wounded.

After he had fired off his rounds, Mohammed Saleh Hamadi, a private, dashed out of the courtyard to an Iraqi Humvee, which another Iraqi soldier drove to a house outside of town. Later that night, Mr. Hamadi was handed over by two members of his tribe to guards at the Syrian border.

It is unclear whether Mr. Hamadi, who had run into trouble in his village with an unintended pregnancy, was sympathetic to the insurgency’s goals or whether he simply wanted the money that such attacks can bring.

But the damage he inflicted was deep.

Within two days, 20 Marines had arrived to provide security, setting up machine gun positions near the entrance to the team’s headquarters. Concertina wire was rolled out around the building. Sandbags were piled up. Doors and windows between the team’s building and those of the Iraqis were welded shut. The Iraqi officers, who said they were ashamed by the attack and conducted an investigation, were often subject to searches when visiting the Americans.

Sgt. Maj. Khalaf Ali, who described Sergeant Davis as one of his best friends, said his personal relationship with the Americans had not changed, a sentiment echoed by other Iraqi officers. But in general, he said, “the trust is not as it originally was.”

The team went out on patrols with the Iraqis much less often. When it did, Marines accompanied it to guard against insurgents.

“We still know that there are good guys in this unit, from the very lowest levels to the highest levels, and we want to work with them,” said Maj. Raymond Mattox, the chief of the team in Baaj. “But it’s just become more difficult, obviously.”

For months, Mr. Hamadi’s case has been winding its way through the Iraqi justice system at a pace that frustrates members of the team. Two other soldiers from the battalion have been convicted for their roles in his escape.

“I guarantee you there’s a handful of these in every battalion,” Captain Keneally said, adding that if justice was not swift for Mr. Hamadi, others might get ideas.

But even a death sentence may not deter the most committed extremists, the officers acknowledged. And heavy fortifications, like those set up after the shooting, send a clear, and counterproductive, message of mistrust.

General Walker said that the teams in the future would probably be larger but that their size would, and should, depend on the situation. What will not change, he said, is the necessity for teams like this to live and work with the Iraqis.

Major Mattox agreed, pointing out that he lived for nearly 300 days alongside the Iraqi battalion.

“But,” he said, “when you’ve been shot at by people you thought you could trust or people you’re trying to help, you can’t help but feel some resentment and not trust them sometimes.”

From NPR npr.org 02/15/09:

Soldier's Family Remembers A Devoted Perfectionist
by BRIAN REED
February 15, 200912:20 AM
After Master Sgt. Anthony Davis' death in Iraq on Nov. 25, his family received hundreds of sympathy cards at their home in Triangle, Va. But one card that showed up in the mailbox took his wife, Anna Davis, by surprise.

"This is the last card that he sent me," she says. "When it came in the mail, I started crying and crying and crying."

Anna says her husband would take hours to pick out the perfect card for each member of his family — no easy task, considering he had 16 siblings and five children. And Anna knows how hard it can be to find a good greeting card in the Iraqi desert — she served there in 2006.

"It's nothing but desert out there — there's nothing," she says. "Yet my husband, even out there, manages to find the perfect card to send his wife."

His family says that's just the way Davis was — a perfectionist — committed to detail and committed to them. He was known especially for his infamous pep talks. When 18-year-old Diana's grades started slipping, her dad delivered his last pep talk over the phone from Iraq. Diana says the theme was "struggles."

"He started speaking about how maybe I need to struggle a little bit in order to understand how important my education is, and how important doing well in school is and succeeding is when it comes to the real world," she says. "And so, about a week and a half later, I was hit with this. It's almost ironic that this is what my struggle is going to be: getting through the days without him."
Davis, 43, enlisted in 1984 and spent the majority of his career as an intelligence analyst for the Army, serving many deployments in countries around the world. On this tour, he was part of a team that trained Iraqi soldiers and delivered aid to civilians. They were delivering food to a village when Davis was shot by a member of the Iraqi security forces.

When he wasn't deployed or working, you might have found Davis running with Diana on a Sunday morning or Latin dancing with his wife. Otherwise, Anna says, you probably would have found her husband "bowling with the boys" — his favorite pastime.

If you watch a video of Davis bowling, you can see the different facets of his personality. His form is so painstakingly consistent, he almost looks like the statuette on top of a bowling trophy.

But in the moments when Davis is not up, you see him cheering on the other bowlers, or teaching a friend how to hold the ball properly. And when someone falls down, he's the first one rushing to help.

Since his death, Anna and her family have been watching videos like these, thankful that Davis was a compulsive home videographer. But nothing has given Anna quite as much solace as her husband's final card to her.

"This card has comforted me in ways that no one else has been able to comfort me," she says. "Simply because I knew that he took whatever little bit of extra time he had to find this card. And just the first sentence, you know — 'Don't try to predict it. Love never happens according to plan' — just makes me think about how our love ended."

Anna pauses. "Definitely not according to plan," she says.

From The Orlando Sentinel orlandosentinal.com 01/08/09:

Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Davis
Sentinel Staff Writer
January 8, 2009

Even after Staff Sgt. Anthony Dee Davis joined the Army and became a Ranger, Forrest Buckwald still saw him as the little boy whose face was pressed against the window of his gun shop, eyeing the soda machine.

"He was a little ragamuffin with a crooked smile," said Buckwald, co-owner of Buck's Gun Rack in Daytona Beach.
Davis was thirsty. So Buckwald gave the 8-year-old a job clearing litter from the store's parking lot for 50 cents and a Coke.

Every Saturday, rain or shine, the boy came back.


Eventually, he worked his way up to a dollar and a Coke.

And over the years, Buckwald and the boy worked up a relationship strong as father and son.

Sometime next week, with a father's sorrow, Buckwald will say goodbye to the boy he remembers and the man who was killed Tuesday in a firefight in northern Iraq.

It was the sixth combat tour of his military career. He was 29.

"He was my son," said Buckwald, 57. "He didn't have my genes. He didn't have my name, but he was my son."

And in a very real sense, Davis was Daytona Beach's son, a child raised by the village.

Born in Mainz, Germany, he moved to Daytona Beach with his mother, Ellen Davis, and two siblings. Buckwald took a shine to the boy, mentoring him, paying for summer camp and braces, taking him on trips to the Amazon, assuming a foster-father role.

The mentoring continued when as a teen, Davis joined Post 415 of the Daytona Beach Fire Explorers, where he met Lori Becker.

"He showed up to a meeting and became one of our finest young men to move up the ranks," said Becker, a lieutenant in the Daytona Beach Fire Department. "He was a leader. He loved to teach the younger recruits. He was compassionate and he was ambitious."

And a good shot -- at 15, he won a national award for marksmanship at an Explorers event.

Helping teammates

Davis attended Seabreeze High School, where he played running back and wide receiver on the football team and also ran track and played basketball.

Jude Mohammed, now a chef in North Carolina, played football with Davis at Seabreeze and described him as one of the popular guys on campus that everyone seemed to like because of his easy-going attitude and quick smile.

"The girls were crazy about him," said Mohammed, 27. He said Davis was also an encouraging team player. "If he ever saw someone struggling while running, he would help them finish through."

Kerry Kramer, assistant athletic director at Seabreeze High, was coach when Davis played football for the Sandcrabs. Davis -- who went by A.D. or Anthony -- was a good-looking kid with a lot of friends, Kramer said.

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