Private Alex Davis, Western Albemarle Class of 2011, came home to Crozet from Afghanistan not expecting to be noticed, but a large crowd of relatives and friends gathered at the Crozet firehouse Sept. 14 to surprise him.
He was badly injured in a helicopter crash May 28 while on a medical evacuation mission to aid an Afghan special forces soldier. One man was killed in the crash and 14 were injured. Davis’s back was broken, and he suffered four breaks in his right arm and two in his legs.
“I thought I was going out to take pictures with my parents,” he said. His parents are Todd and Tina Davis.
Instead they took him to Brownsville Market where a police motorcycle escort including Police Chief Steve Sellers waited and some 36 bikers who are part of the Patriot Guard were rendezvousing. Once together, the softly growling motorcade made its way through town to the firehouse. There the CVFD’s giant American flag was suspended above the firehouse driveway by the ladder truck.
The Patriot Guard is a statewide club of motorcycle riders who convene—only at the invitation of a family—to provide escorts for fallen or wounded soldiers, often at funerals. The Guard says its mission is to ensure that soldiers and veterans are shown respect. Assistant state captain Jim Robinson led the guard. A patch on his jacket read: “It’s Not About Us.”
“The average person has no comprehension of what they go through,” explained Robinson. “If we can show him some respect . . . He’s now part of our brotherhood.”
At the firehouse an honor guard of 50 cadets from Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro waited, forming two files that led to the firehouse’s back door and the reception room where a big cake was ready.
Davis climbed down bravely but stiffly when the tricycle bike he was chauffeured in stopped at the head of the cadets.
“I was only doing my job,” he said to the crowd modestly, looking abashed by the occasion.
His wife Heidi came to his side. He acknowledged the crowd with gestures and with Chief Sellers at his side made his way between the cadet ranks to the reception. The crowd inside was affectionate and grateful to show it.
Davis has 30 screws and some titanium plates in his arm and will likely be medically discharged. He spent weeks in Army hospitals in Germany and Texas. His injuries are likely to affect him permanently.
He is with the Fourth Infantry, part of a special air reconnaissance unit. He was among a handpicked group of 20 from his training class who formed the team.
“We worked usually in support of special forces units,” said Davis. “We were flying in an area where the Taliban were active. We came under fire.”
American Apache attack helicopters came to their aid.
“You couldn’t tell it was a helicopter,” Davis said of the crash. “I was unbuckled at the time to be able to get out first. I came to 100 feet from the helicopter.” He said he picked up a rifle and started firing.
“I lost my best friend. That’s the hardest thing.” The chopper fell on him.
“If I’m discharged, I’ll come back to Crozet,” Davis said. “I’m thinking of my wife now. I really want to be there for her. I love the army and I love the infantry… .”
There was a lot of love going on that day.