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

Robert Gene Davis

Jackson, Missouri

August 18, 2005

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
23 Army Sgt

Army's 864th Engineer Combat Battalion (Heavy), 555th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (Provisional)

Fort Lewis, Washington

 Killed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, when an improvised explosive device detonated underneath their HMMWV during ground assault convoy operations.

From The Southeast Missourian SE Missourian 08/25/05:

Sgt. Bob Davis
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Sgt. Robert Gene "Bob" Davis, 23, of Jackson died Thursday, Aug. 18, 2005, near Kandahar, Afghanistan.
He was born Dec. 27, 1981, in Cape Girardeau, son of Jimmy and Judy Kimes Davis. He and Amanda Johnston were married April 21, 2001, in Jackson.

Bob was a 2001 graduate of Jackson High School. He was a member of First General Baptist Church in Jackson.

He was serving with the U.S. Army's 864th Engineer Battalion from Fort Lewis, Wash. He was a driver for the task force commander.

Bob was awarded three Army Achievement Medals, Army Commendation Medal-Iraq, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Expeditionary War on Terrorism Medal, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Survivors include his wife; a son, Brayden Noah Davis of the home; father, Jimmy Davis of Sandoval, Ill.; mother, Judy Oberts of Cape Girardeau; two sisters, Brenda Davis and Theresa Oberts of Cape Girardeau; mother and father-in-law, Joyce and Shane Johnston of Jackson; and brother-in-law, Dereck Johnston and wife Carrie of Oak Ridge.

Friends may call at Cracraft-Miller Funeral Home from 4 to 8 p.m. today.

The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Friday at First General Baptist Church, with the Rev. Luther Rhodes and Sgt. Andrew Casey officiating. Burial will be in Russell Heights Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial trust in the name of Sgt. Robert G. Davis has been established at Bank of Missouri in Cape Girardeau.

From the SE Missourian 08/23/05:

Relatives remember fallen soldier
Tuesday, August 23, 2005

His name has grabbed headlines. His photo has appeared on television. People are calling at all hours, offering condolences and support to his family.

It's inevitable that when a soldier dies in combat, he or she will be called a hero.

But Army Sgt. Robert G. Davis never thought of himself as one. In fact, the label upset him. Instead he viewed himself as just another soldier doing his job, said Tammy Woodall of Cape Girardeau, a cousin by marriage.

But Davis no longer can avoid the hero role.

Last Thursday, Davis, 23, of Jackson and another soldier died in Afghanistan Thursday when a roadside bomb exploded underneath their Humvee.

Whether he thought he deserved it or not, Davis is already being treated as a hero, both by the military and those closer to home. Soldiers filled an Afghanistan chapel Saturday to honor Davis and a fellow soldier killed in Thursday's blast.

Another service will be held at Fort Lewis, Wash., later this week. At least one local restaurant marquee has dedicated its space to his memory.

Brenda Davis, Robert's sister from Cape Girardeau, said her brother loved what he did and downplayed the danger that went with his job.

As the days pass, more family members become comfortable enough to talk about Davis. They tell the story of an outgoing young person who started to value his education, a loving family man who would've been a great father, a guy who smiled a lot and liked to catch catfish, a man who didn't want any special attention, and a soldier who believed in his mission.

Woodall said the family is angry that he his gone, but she's not angry at President Bush or at anyone in particular. She said she knows that Davis wouldn't want his death to bring criticism for the war on terror.

"He really believed in what he was doing," she said.

Family members continue to struggle with their grief amid uncertainty over just when the military will return Davis' body to a Jackson funeral home.

"We just don't know what to do," Woodall said. "It is frustrating."

Besides Brenda Davis, 24, survivors include his wife, Mandy; infant son, Brayden; his mother, Judy Oberts of Cape Girardeau; a 16-year-old sister, Theresa Oberts of Cape Girardeau; his father, Jimmy Davis of Sandoval, Ill., an aunt, Brenda Holmes of Granite City, Ill., and cousins Bill Woodall of Cape Girardeau and Rhonda Osborne of Granite City.

While family members wait to say their good-byes, some of Davis' fellow soldiers have already honored him at a memorial service in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Sgt. Wendy Diestra, who had served with Davis since basic training in 2001, said he was a humble man who valued the simple things in life. "He had high hopes, faith and spirit," the military's Stars and Stripes newspaper quoted Diestra as saying.

Stars and Stripes reported that Capt. Gregory Parranto remembered Davis' "contagious, good attitude."

Battalion commander Lt. Col. Paul Paolozzi said Davis was always thinking of the welfare of other soldiers working to construct a new highway in eastern Afghanistan. "Yet he never took credit for anything," Paolozzi said.

Davis grew up in Cape Girardeau. He lived with his mother, Judy Oberts, until he was 14 years old. He then moved in with an uncle in Cape Girardeau.

"He was the epitome of a self-made man," Stars and Stripes quoted Paolozzi as saying.

Before joining the Army, Davis worked at Ryan's Family Steak House in Cape Girardeau. He twice worked for Havco Wood Products Inc., in Scott City after dropping out of high school.

"He was a good kid actually," said Jill Haupt, human resource manager. "He always smiled."

He first started working for Havco in February 2000. He worked there for about a month. He returned to Havco in October 2001. He left in April 2001, telling co-workers he wanted to finish high school, Haupt said.

He earned his high-school diploma in 2001. He married his high-school sweetheart, Mandy, on April 21, 2001.

He joined the Army, graduating from Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri on Sept. 14, 2001.

Robert Davis -- Bob to his family -- originally was supposed to get out of the Army last March, but his tour of duty was extended another year. He had just bought a home in Jackson and planned to go to college, Brenda Davis said.

As a soldier, Davis served in Iraq and Afghanistan. A family photograph shows him seated in a chair in one of Saddam's former palaces. Another shows him seated in an Army Blackhawk helicopter. He wasn't a pilot, but he hoped one day to learn to fly.

He was in his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, serving with the 864th Engineer Combat Battalion out of Fort Lewis, Wash. The battalion began a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan in March.

"He knew he was going back overseas," she said. "We were all worried about him."

Davis' father, Jimmy Davis, said he tried to talk his son out of joining the Army. "I told him he would get killed," Jimmy Davis said.

Robert Davis became a father on April 28, 2005, but he didn't get a chance to see his son, Brayden Noah, until he came home for a two-week visit in July.

"He loved his baby. He would have been a good dad," Brenda Davis said.

On his short visit home, Davis told family members that roadside bombs posed the biggest danger for soldiers in Afghanistan, Woodall remembered. The bombs can be detonated by radio or mobile phone.

Pentagon officials have said that the bombs are small, easily hidden and difficult to detect. They have been hidden under rocks, in vehicles and even in animal carcasses.

Since learning of her brother's death, Brenda Davis has reviewed family photographs and tried to make sense of the tragedy. At first, she couldn't talk about it. "I was in shock, upset, hurt and mad," she said. 

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