Davis honored for Last Favor
5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
ELIZABETHTON — Master Sgt. Jefferson Donald “Donnie” Davis was buried in his native Carter County on Tuesday after being eulogized as a man who never passed up an opportunity to do a favor for those he cared for.
“When we, his country, asked him to do this last favor, he left his family and home and went,” said David Beireis, a friend and former colleague of the 39-year-old Army Special Forces medic. “Now, he’s home again, and he lives in our heart.”
Davis — a 1981 Elizabethton High School graduate — was one of three soldiers killed in Afghanistan on Dec. 5 when a B-52 accidentally dropped a bomb too close to American forces.
Beireis delivered the eulogy at Davis’ funeral, which was held in the EHS gymnasium to accommodate the more than 700 mourners who attended the afternoon service. An honor guard from the Army 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell, Ky., also participated in the funeral and following burial service at Happy Valley Memorial Park.
A picture of Davis, along with the career serviceman’s military uniform, was placed next to his flag-draped coffin on the gym floor. His widow, Mi Kyong Davis, sat on the front row, flanked by the couple’s 10-year-old son, Jesse, and 14-year-old daughter, Cristina. Davis’ parents, Lon and Linda Davis, Watauga; and his in-laws, Song R. and Suk Yi Yu, Kimpo, South Korea, also attended the funeral.
Beireis, a former Army medic, recalled Davis as being a “scrawny corporal” when the two first met in 1988. He said Davis, whom he described as having an “easy-going nature and quick smile,” built a reputation for being a leader who “put his gift for common sense” to good use.
“No matter what task he was given, he’d do it and he’d do it right,” Beireis said.
He said Davis was known as “Donnie” to his family and friends in Carter County. Beireis said Davis was also called “Jeff” by his colleagues.
“I knew him as J.D.,” he said. “Everyone who met J.D. considered him a friend.”
Master Sgt. Monty Flanigan said Davis’ service in Afghanistan typifies the special services motto, “Free the oppressed.” He said Davis’ death had impacted many across the country, some of whom wrote letters of condolence.
“People were trying to reach out to the family,” Flanigan said.
Davis’ funeral drew hundreds from across Tennessee and the Southeast. Among them were members of the state’s chapter of Rolling Thunder, a veterans group organized to call attention to the plight of prisoners of war and American servicemen missing in action.
Brad Hieatt, president of the group, said several members of the motorcycle-riding chapter had driven their bikes from as far away as Knoxville and Chattanooga to pay their respects to Davis.
“We wanted to show our support for the troops in Afghanistan and let the world know this man did not die in vain,” he said.
Davis was buried with full military honors in Happy Valley Memorial Park. The funeral and burial service were attended by a number of area elected officials, military personnel and law enforcement officers.
Among them was a delegation from the Johnson City Fire Department, officers from the Tennessee Highway Patrol and deputies from the Carter County Sheriff’s Department.
State Rep. Ralph Cole, R-Elizabethton, and Sen. Dewey “Rusty” Crowe, R-Johnson City, presented the family with a flag from the state Capitol. Maj. Gen. Geoffrey C. Lambert also presented Davis’ family with a number of military honors at the graveside.
“This nation need not fear as long as we have husbands, sons and warriors like J.D. Davis,” Lambert said.