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Farragut, CAK soldier on the mend

Wounded Marine Lance Cpl. Austin Lee Davis, 22, is on the mend and back “stateside,” recuperating in California from wounds sustained from a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Davis even made it back a few weeks earlier than buddies in his Marine Corps combat unit.

Dr. Douglas L. Davis of Farragut, the Marine’s father, said Davis had made the flight from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Kaiserslautern, Germany, to Washington, D.C., Monday, July 10, and since has flown on to Travis AFB, Calif., where he was transferred for further medical treatment at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton near Oceanside, Calif.

The Marine’s Farragut family — Dr. Davis, Janet, his twin brother Adam and brother Nathan, 18, — soon may travel to California to visit with the Marine, a 2002 graduate of the Christian Academy of Knoxville.

That’s the good news.

Worse news is that Lance Cpl. Davis still has a long way to go before he can hope for a Farragut homecoming.

First, he must recover from a broken forearm and several shrapnel wounds, sustained mostly to his left side, when he and three fellow Marines, became targets, Wednesday, July 5, for an insurgent’s bomb, known as an Improvised Explosive Device.

“It’s miraculous that he survived,” a decidedly upbeat Dr. Davis said of his son. “They had let three other members of his fire team pass on by along a thirty-foot dirt path they were walking alongside an eight-foot wall.

Unseen attackers had buried the explosive inside an earthen berm that was about eight feet away from Austin when the device exploded.”

The young Marine was injured as he and others, serving with the First Regiment of the First Marine Division at Karmah, near Fallujah, returned to their base from an otherwise routine patrol.

Davis, who had attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Pellisssippi State Technical Community College before joining the Corps in April 2005, had served in Iraq since January 2006. His unit was scheduled for rotation back to the U.S. in mid-August 2006.

Dr. Davis said his son had been given morphine for pain and sounded groggy on two occasions when he had telephoned his Farragut family from Germany.

During a third call, however, the young Marine seemed fully conscious and even joking.

Dr. Davis said his son thought he might have been targeted, since he had been holding the patrol’s radio a few feet from his comrades at arms.

Shrapnel, the doctor said, struck his son in front of and behind his left ear. Some also lodged beneath his scalp, but it had hit neither the Marine’s ear nor his face.

Lance Cpl. Davis’ more serious wounds were to his left hip and forearm, Dr. Davis said.

Lance Cpl. Davis told his family last weekend he had been fully conscious, seconds after the explosive detonated, and he remembers staring up from the ground at his buddies.

“Next thing he knew,” Dr. Davis said, “a helicopter arrived, and he was able to walk to the helicopter, which took him to a field hospital.”

Once Davis’ condition was stabilized, he was flown quickly to Germany.

“He was amazed that his injuries were not worse,” Dr. Davis said. “We all feel he’s been very lucky.”

Dr. Davis said his son obviously had received excellent medical care en route back to the U.S., but he said the family never received any official military notification that the Marine had been injured.

Melody Durham, who first taught Davis seventh-grade honors English and later government and economics as a CAK senior, said Davis and his brothers all were “great guys, easy to know and very personable.”

Durham said she was surprised to learn in 2005 that her former student had enlisted in the Marines, but she said many young men seek experience and direction from military service.

Durham called Davis the “outgoing type” who could get along well in any peer group.

“He was easy to get to know, everyone liked him, and he certainly had no enemies.”

As a senior, Durham said, she and students sometimes kidded Davis about his cavernous back pack which, she said, sometimes seemed a “bottomless pit.

“He always had everything he needed in there,” Durham said. “But sometimes, it took him awhile to dig down to it.” She said Davis, who played varsity soccer, proved a good mentor who often took troubled students under his wing and befriended them.”

By the time Davis enlisted, Durham said, “he was nervous but excited and knew exactly what he was getting into over there. We were fully involved in Iraq by then,” she added.

“He and his brothers are polite and always looked after other people,” Durham said. “They were all raised correctly.”

Dr. Davis said his son had never confided whether he intended to make a career of his Marine Corps service. The doctor, an internist with offices on Northshore Drive, said he will be interested when the Marine returns home to learn whether his son’s experiences in Iraq have made up his mind for him, one way or the other.

Dr. Davis said his son faces a period of medical rehabilitation, but he added that the entire Davis family looks forward to having him back in Farragut as soon as possible.


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