Well done good and faithful servant
By Robin Scott
Shortly after 10:00 a.m. on Friday, September 25th, members of the United States Army marched toward a charter plane at Ingram Airfield. Their task was to accept the body and casket of Sgt. David A. Davis, United States Army, in preparation of his homecoming to Dalhart. The wind rushing by was the only sound heard, along with the voice of one soldier calling cadence as the soldiers placed the casket into a white hearse. From the moment Sgt. Davis was taken from the aircraft, until his arrival at Horizon Funeral Home, more than five miles away, a hero’s greeting was tendered by friends, family and strangers who were determined to honor Sgt. Davis as he made his way through Dalhart.
A solemn sight from the entrance to the airfield to Highway 54 East were men and women clad in gray uniforms with blue stripes down each pant leg. A familiar uniform to the people who reside in and around Dalhart and the uniform worn by those employed at the Dalhart Unit that sits adjacent to the airport. Each prison employee held a flag as the procession passed by, many giving a small wave, and many bowing their head. They honored the son of two of their own, Vicky Williams, mother, and Roy Bernard Davis, father, of Sgt. Davis.
From kids in the Boy Scouts to all of the children who attend St. Anthony’s Academy, to people stepping outside of their offices, hundreds held flags and also paid tribute to Sgt. Davis. XIT Communications provided flags to everyone and the Lions Club lined the streets of Dalhart with flags. The city erected a flag over the top of Rock Island, the Chamber of Commerce was draped in red, white and blue, and as the procession passed by, KXIT Radio played music befitting the fallen hero. Many vehicles in the procession had their windows rolled down and their radios blaring, so that the music flowed out onto the street. Certainly no dry eyes were seen.
One could only describe the procession as overwhelming. Piper Colin Chalmers, a Scotsman who now resides in Amarillo, played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes at both the airport and funeral home, creating an intense mood of pride and sorrow all at once. The support shown by the Dalhart area was in and of itself indescribable. Firemen, deputies, troopers, police officers, Sheriffs, horsemen, motorcyclists and military personnel all safeguarded the sanctity of the somber tribute. The community transformed itself from thousands of individuals to a body of one, unified in its dedication to providing some comfort in an inconsolable circumstance.
Saturday saw a different type of homage. As Sgt. Davis was taken to First Baptist Church in a black horse drawn hearse driven by Roy Lynn Davis, older brother of Sgt. Davis, another hush fell upon Dalhart. The Patriot Guard followed by the XIT Rangers lead the way and traveled along with their riderless horse, symbolizing the inexplicable fact that a member of the community will forever live in memory, rather than amongst. Flags once again lined the streets and hundreds came forth to give a small wave or bow their head.
Since his passing a week ago in Afghanistan, Sgt. Davis has not been alone. Fellow soldiers from the United States Army have governed over him, watching him and protecting him from any further harm. The soldiers, many from his company at Fort Carson, Colorado, traveled to Dalhart to show their respect for their comrade. The sorrow they felt failed to cause any of them to lose even a single synchronized step as they carried their own into the church for a heart felt service.
The sight of Devon Davis, widow of Sgt. Davis, sitting on the front pew next to five tiny youngsters who have lost their father was nearly unbearable. Each one wearing a small pin given to them by the Army, signifying their father’s bravery and courage, a small memento to offer some understanding of what a loss they have suffered indeed.
Major General Thomas Robinson, U.S. Army, Fort Hood, presided over the ceremony and delivered a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star to Devon, Bernard and Vicky, and each also received a United States Flag. Small mementos of the heroism of the husband and son they sacrificed. The General spoke briefly and became nearly unable to finish, as the sacrifice hits home to a man who has also fought in Afghanistan.
Pastor Barry Walker, First Christian Church, spoke of the grandson of Hoyt and Alene Davis, members of his flock. He spoke with an understanding of how the Davis family has lost a piece of themselves, but a hope that Sgt. Davis has only changed his service affiliation from the United States Army, to God’s Army in heaven, a more prestigious address. As the service drew to a close shots rang out over Dalhart as the Army Honor Guard provided their traditional salute. Then, a lone bugler played “Taps,” a song that lives deep within the hearts of all military men and women, past and present and signifying the end of the day, or end of a life gone too soon.
As Devon begins her journey into the next phase of her life and the lives of her five children, she will carry with her memories of a small Texas town near the New Mexico and Oklahoma borders that valued the life of her dear husband. A town full of people who, until Friday and Saturday, may not have known how touched they would become by the loss of one young man who once played among the town’s children, learned at the schools of the town and left the town to protect the freedoms it enjoys. A town that may stand together as one and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, you’re home, home for good.”