Steven A. Davis – Private First Class, United States Army

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release


DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Private First Class Steven A. Davis, 23, of Woodbridge, Virginia, died July 4, 2007, in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with grenades. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado.

Virginia Marine and Soldier Killed In Separate Incidents in Iraq

A soldier from Woodbridge who was one of four family members in Iraq was killed there Wednesday when his unit was attacked with grenades, officials and a family member said.

Army Private First Class Steven A. Davis, 23, was killed instantly during the attack in Baghdad, family members said last night.

Steven A. Davis

Steven A. Davis has been awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star

They said his mother, Tess Davis, is working as a paramedic in Iraq. A grandfather, Rick Lara, is there as a mechanic. And Davis's younger brother, Christopher, is a soldier in Iraq, their father, Buck, an Army veteran, said.

A second Virginia man, Marine Lance Corporal Jeremy L. Tinnel of Mechanicsville, was killed Sunday in a non-hostile boating accident in the Euphrates River, officials said. Tinnel, 20, and another Marine were the only ones on the boat when it capsized near the shore in Anbar province, Tinnel's wife, Angel, said. The accident is under investigation. Both were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Davis, the Woodbridge soldier, had moved from Fayetteville, North Carolina, to the Washington area in 2001.

He attended community college and worked in a fast-food restaurant. He tired of the job, his father said, and began to talk of joining the Army.

Also inclining him toward the Army was his desire to provide for his young family.

Davis's wife, Ayla, was pregnant with their first daughter, Elizabeth. The girl was born in April 2006. “He wanted to be a man and take care of his family,” Michelle Davis, his sister-in-law, said.

Davis was deployed on his first tour in October and was home for a short time in April to watch his daughter celebrate her birthday.

The father said it was not his idea for his son to join the Army.

“I told him: ‘Flip burgers and go to school. The military is not for everybody,' ” the father said.

But, he said, his son turned out to be “a really good soldier. He exceeded all of my expectations.”

Steven Davis had always been tough, his father said.

When Davis was 15 or 16, his father said, he had been the only youth allowed to play ice hockey on an adult team at Fort Bragg.

“He had no sense of any type of fear,” Buck Davis said.

Davis was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division based at Fort Carson, Colorado.

One Carried On a Family Tradition; Another Was a ‘Soldier at Heart'

Army Private First Class Steven A. Davis was a fearless, stand-up guy who exceeded expectations and wanted to take care of his young family, those who knew him said. Yesterday, friends and family members gathered to honor Davis as he was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.

Davis, 23, of Woodbridge, Virginia, was killed July 4, 2007,  in Baghdad when insurgents attacked his unit with grenades, the Defense Department reported. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division based at Fort Carson, Colorado.

More than 90 mourners stood under a cloudy sky and braved intermittent rain to pay their respects to Davis, who was the 351st member of the military killed in Iraq to be buried at Arlington.

Davis came from a family steeped in military tradition. His mother, Tess Davis, is a paramedic in Iraq; his grandfather, Rick Lara, is there as a mechanic; and his younger brother, Christopher, is a soldier there as well, said Davis's father, Buck, an Army veteran who spoke to The Washington Post this month.

“He had no sense of any type of fear,” Buck Davis said. He said he had encouraged his son to work and go to school, because not everyone is suited for military service.

But Buck Davis said his son turned out to be “a really good soldier. He exceeded all of my expectations.”

As a teenager, Davis was the only youth allowed to play ice hockey with the grown-ups at Fort Bragg, his father said.

As an adult, Davis continued to show maturity beyond his years, joining the Army to support his family. His wife, Ayla, gave birth to their daughter, Elizabeth, in April 2006.

“He wanted to be a man and take care of his family,” his sister-in-law Michelle Davis told The Post in an interview this month.

Yesterday, Ayla Davis received a folded American flag while Elizabeth sat on her grandmother's lap. Davis's parents also received flags, as the three family members in Iraq had returned for the funeral.

Although Davis had only been in the Army since 2005, he had received several awards, including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal. He was on his first tour in Iraq and had been home in April to celebrate his daughter's 1st birthday.

Beside his grave were half a dozen wreaths and floral arrangements, including a red and white wreath from the Baghdad fire department, with a card that read: “With heavy hearts, please hear the words we are not able to speak.”

Earlier yesterday, mourners had gathered to say goodbye to another Southern son, Army Sergeant Gene L. Lamie of Homerville, Georgia. Family members said that there was little doubt that Lamie was going to join the military.

“He grew up with a soldier's heart,” his brother, John Lamie, told the Florida Times-Union last week.

His mother, Linda Lamie, agreed. “My son served his country. He was a soldier at heart. His biggest concern was to get the people under him home.”

Lamie, 25, died July 6, 2007,  in Iraq of wounds suffered when a makeshift bomb detonated near his vehicle. Ptrivate First Class Le Ron A. Wilson, 18, of Queens, New York, was also killed. Lamie was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division based at Fort Stewart, Georgia.

More than 50 mourners followed Lamie's flag-draped silver coffin to his grave site. He was the 350th member of the military killed in Iraq to be laid to rest at Arlington.

Lamie's wife, Dara, was presented with a folded flag, as were his father, Eugene M. Lamie, and mother.

Lamie's brother John Lamie, a Georgia National Guardsman, served in Iraq and spoke with his brother after his own squad suffered casualties.

“He told me we were soldiers,” John Lamie told the Times-Union. “We were meant to do what we were doing.”

The Davis and Lamie services were among 32 burials at Arlington yesterday. Separated by two years in life and two days in death, the men were laid to rest side by side in what John Lamie called “a house of heroes.”

In good company: Soldiers remembered for impact on 2nd BCT

They both liked hockey; they arrived at Fort Carson at the same time; and both were sent to Iraq in October.

On Tuesday, Fort Carson mourned the two soldiers, Specialist Steven Davis, 23, and Sergeant Eric Lill, 28, who died in Baghdad this month while serving with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

Lill died July 6, 2007, of wounds suffered when a bomb exploded near his Humvee. Davis died July 4, 2007, when his unit was attacked by insurgents with grenades.

Friends remembered each for his love of family; Davis was especially known for his smile and Lill for a fondness of his hometown sports teams.

Davis, of Woodbridge, Virginia, came from a family with an armed forces tradition. According to accounts from The Washington Post, his mother, Tess, is a paramedic in Iraq, and his grandfather Rick Lara and brother Christopher are in the Army.

At Davis’ funeral last week at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, his former roommate Specialist Jordan Bloom gave the eulogy, something each promised to do if the other died in Iraq.

“If a person is judged by the company he holds, then I am a far better man having known Davis,” Bloom said in a statement read at Tuesday’s memorial at Fort Carson.

Bloom thought he would be leaving Iraq on July 4, but he was told his tour was being extended a few more weeks. At first Bloom was upset, but he viewed it differently after Davis was killed.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Bloom said during the funeral at Arlington. “God granted me two more days with my best friend.”

Bloom said he was there when Davis’ mother was told of her son’s death. She handled it with a demeanor similar to that of her son: “calm and cool,” according to Bloom, and said she was “glad we were there with him.”

Davis’ commander, Captain Joseph Schwankhaus, said in a statement read at the memorial that what he remembered about Davis was his raving about his brown and black 1992 Honda CRX.

He also had an uncanny ability to find scarce things, Schwankhaus said in the statement.

He could find you a box of marbles and a three-headed squirrel in a matter of hours if you asked him to, Schwankhaus said.

Davis joined the Army two years ago, The Washington Post reported, so he could take care of his wife, Ayla, and baby daughter Elizabeth.

Lill, of Chicago, was best known for being the lead gun of his platoon’s convoys and constantly talking about his 6-year-old son, Cody, and 4-year-old daughter, Mikayla, fellow soldiers said during ceremonies in Iraq and in statements read at Tuesday’s Fort Carson ceremony.

Lill was on his second tour helping to train Iraqi police when he was killed. He was worried about the danger when he was deployed last fall, but once in Iraq, he told his family things were “boring” and they shouldn’t worry.

“I think it was . . . scarier than what he led us to believe,” his father, Anthony Lill, told The Gazette two weeks ago.

He was an avid hockey fan who played from grade school to adulthood, including one year at Marshall University in West Virginia.

He was to be discharged in April and hoped to be a police officer or U.S. Secret Service agent after leaving the military, his father said.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

He was 23 but brought his skateboard to Baghdad. He was a combat arms soldier but had pizza with his mother once a week in the Green Zone PX.


Pfc. Steven Davis and his mother Tess, a contract paramedic, in Baghdad.


Pfc. Steven Davis and his daughter Elizabeth during Davis's R&R

He was the older brother of another soldier fighting in Iraq, a husband and father of a toddler, the grandson of veterans, the son of a Green Beret.

But none of that offered protection. Pfc. Steven Davis was killed in action in Iraq on the Fourth of July.

Davis, who was awarded a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal, came from a family of soldiers. They’d seen friends die in the line of duty and they knew it could happen to him. But none of that provided much comfort.

“I’m having a real hard time with this, actually,” said Buck Davis, Steven’s father and a retired Green Beret and warrant officer now working as a civilian at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

“I feel it. I think about it. I think about what I would have done. Constantly.”

For the Davis family, the military is a tradition, with both grandfathers, the father and on down to brothers Steven and Christopher, all having served. Yet, Buck, 46, who fought in Desert Storm and other places he doesn’t discuss, didn’t really want it to be that way.

“I tried to discourage them both. I’d just tell them they were doing fine, they were on the right track, that there are a lot easier ways to make a living than the way I did it.”

But both were unsure of their futures after high school. Steven attended community college, flipped burgers and “felt he wasn’t going anywhere,” his father said. So he decided to enlist shortly after his brother, then 19, had done so.

“As a dad I was proud,” Buck said. “But as a parent I was worried. I knew they were in harm’s way every day. I’ve had a lot of friends who’ve been hurt and killed over the years.

“You think you know how you’re going to react, but you don’t. It still does not seem real. I don’t have a lot I can see or touch … I don’t even know how to describe it.”

Steven, on the last day of his life, was the gunner on the last vehicle in a four-vehicle convoy, the only one killed in a grenade attack, part of an ambush. No one else was even wounded.

His comrades in the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division brought his body to his mother, Tess, who had taken a contract paramedic job in Iraq’s Green Zone months before. They told her he had died instantly.

“I was able to see the body,” she said. “I was able to spend some time with him. I think that helped me. I feel like I was lucky. It’s not luck. But I didn’t have to wonder what happened to my son. I know what happened to my son.”

Tess, 44, went to Iraq after years of staying home in North Carolina with the boys. Buck was often gone.

“She kind of sat and watched me do a lot of missions. She wanted to do things but she was a mother and a parent and kind of put that on hold,” Buck said. “She supported me through a lot of crazy stuff. I’m the longest-married Special Forces guy in the world.”

Even in Iraq, Tess remained very much the parent. Christopher was stationed too far from Baghdad to see her but they talked on the phone and e-mailed. Steven called before and after every mission, and, for four months, was just 10 minutes away from the Green Zone, so he and his unit came weekly to eat lunch with her.

“His whole platoon — I was like everybody’s mom,” Tess said. “We got to spend Christmas together and New Year’s together. So, again, I call myself lucky.”

Christopher was just about to go out on patrol when the news came about his brother. His commander sent him to Baghdad International Airport, where he linked up with his mother and grandfather, Rick Lara, who was working in Iraq as a mechanic. They all escorted Steven’s body home.

“I take some comfort in that,” Buck said.

Steven was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on July 18. Five days later, his mother was back in the Green Zone.

“Steven was very proud of what I was doing over here,” Tess said. “I thought being over here would help me heal, helping other soldiers.

“The first couple of days were tough. Every time I drove past the PX, I would start crying,” she said. “Steven always said, ‘Mom, if anything happens to me, don’t cry.’ I do get teary. I do cry sometimes,” she said.

“But I want to remember him as the bright, vibrant kid he was. For the most part, I think of him as someone watching over me. To tell the truth, I don’t see myself leaving this place anytime soon.”

Christopher, at his father’s request, did not return to Iraq. He was sent back to Fort Drum, N.Y., from where he had deployed on his birthday, Aug. 13, 2006.

“I think he’s done his time,” said Buck, who’s hoping to get Christopher a compassionate reassignment to Fort Bragg.

Steven’s grandfather declined to return.

Despite their loss, Buck said: “We don’t blame the military for anything. I blame the belligerents in Iraq, the Islamic terrorists.”

Buck’s motto, displayed on his e-mail is: “Freedom isn’t free; but don’t worry the United States Army Special Forces is picking up the tab.”

He has had questions about how the U.S. is prosecuting its fights in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I think the global war on terrorism is very important to world security,” he said. “But as far as the way we’re executing it — just having kids ride around in Humvees until they get shot or blown up — it’s not the way I’d go about it.”

Still, as the only man — or parent — in the family who hasn’t been to Iraq this time, Buck wants to go there now.

“I’m not getting a lot of support for that. My unit’s not too crazy about sending civilians downrange. But I don’t know — I feel like I haven’t done everything I can in the GWOT,” he said.

Arlington Funeral Iraq

An Army honor guard detail carries the casket of Army Specialist Steven A. Davis,
Wednesday, July 18, 2007, during burial services at Arlington National Cemetery

Dusty Gray

Army Chaplain, Lieutenant Colonel Dusty Gray, right, presides over the graveside service for Army Specialist
Steven A. Davis, Wednesday, July 18, 2007, at Arlington National Cemetery

Dusty Gray

Army Chaplain, Lieutenant Colonel Dusty Gray, rear, right, and an unidentified Army staff sergeant, center,
render a salute during the playing of taps at the graveside service for Army Specialist Steven A. Davis,
Wednesday, July 18, 2007, at Arlington National Cemetery

Gregory A. Schumacher

Army Brigadier General Gregory A. Schumacher, left, presents American flags to the family of Army
Specialist Steven A. Davis, Wednesday, July 18, 2007, during burial services at Arlington National Cemetery


Susan Blankenship copies onto a piece of paper the gravestone of U.S. Army PFC Steven A. Davis, of Woodbridge,
Virginia, who died exactly two years ago today in Iraq while she visits Section 60 of the Arlington National Cemetery, July 4, 2009
Blankenship's son and Davis served together before Davis died and she is copying the grave marker for her son who could not visit the gravesite today

DATE OF BIRTH: 03/26/1984
DATE OF DEATH: 07/04/2007



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