The Department of Defense announced the death of six soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died January 9, 2008 in Sinsil, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated in a booby-trapped house during combat operations. They were assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Vilseck, Germany.
Killed were:Spc. Todd E. Davis, 22, of Raymore, Mo.Staff Sgt. Jonathan K. Dozier, 30, of Rutherford, Tenn.Staff Sgt. Sean M. Gaul, 29, of Reno, Nev.Sgt. Zachary W. McBride, 20, of Bend, Ore.Sgt. 1st Class Matthew I. Pionk, 30, of Superior, Wis.Sgt. Christopher A. Sanders, 22, of Roswell, N.M.
From the Kansas City Star -- The last time Dorothy Ochsner talked to her nephew Todd Davis, he seemed happy. He called her on Christmas Day.
The 22-year-old Army specialist, who had lived with Ochsner and her husband in Kansas City, had been deployed in Iraq nearly a year. He talked about the American, and recently, British troops he had been working with and how much he liked them. “He was enjoying his fellow comrades in duty there,” Ochsner said.
The same was true in the moments before Davis died, a fellow soldier who survived the mission told his aunt. The mood was light, and the troops were enjoying one another’s company during a reconnaissance operation in Sinsil, Iraq. “They entered that house totally convinced that they were just checking it out, cleaning it out,” Ochsner said. “And it was booby-trapped.”
Davis was one of six soldiers who died Wednesday after an improvised explosive device detonated inside the house. The Department of Defense released the soldiers’ names Friday.
Wednesday’s mission came on the second day of a new offensive aimed at rooting out al-Qaida north of Iraq’s capital. Sinsil is in the province of Diyala. Davis and the five other men who died were assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Division based in Vilseck, Germany.
Davis, who graduated from Lee’s Summit North High School, was handsome and athletic and had an infectious smile, his family said. “He was always laughing, he was always smiling,” said his stepmother, Kathy Shewmaker-Davis. “Every time you looked at him, he had a smile on his face.”
Sue Davis, his aunt, said she marveled at how Davis was clean-cut, even-tempered, funny, polite — and able to run five miles without getting winded. If you built a person by taking every good thing from every friend you ever knew, you would have her nephew, Sue Davis said. He seemed to be “on this planet to make people happy, and to be happy.”
At Lee’s Summit North, Davis wrestled and played soccer and football, Ochsner said. He received a scholarship to attend junior college in St. Louis, where he excelled in wrestling as well as academics. Davis also was a second-degree brown belt in karate, which he cherished as a code of living as well as a martial art, she said.
Davis almost went to the University of Oklahoma, where he planned to study architecture, relatives said. He was enrolled, had a place to live and had the car packed when he made a last-minute decision to join the Army instead. Davis’ choice was largely inspired by pride in his late father, a Marine who completed two tours in Vietnam, his family said. Davis’ uncle fought there, too, with the Navy.
On his Facebook page, Davis described his interests as waking up and saying “yesterday was awesome,” and living each day “as if it was my last.”
Davis’ mother has not been in contact with the family since Davis and his brother were children, relatives said. His father died of a brain tumor a few years ago. Losing his dad reinforced Davis’ enthusiastic approach to life, Shewmaker-Davis said. “Todd really lived for today,” she said, “and enjoyed every minute.”