Mother's premonition proves to be true

By Kathy Helms-Hughes
STAR STAFF

   Linda Davis, the mother of Master Sgt. Jefferson Donald Davis, awoke Wednesday morning with a feeling she couldn't shake.
   "I felt bad, like there was something wrong. I really didn't know what," she said.
   Call it mother's intuition.
   By noon, her worst fears were realized. Army officers from the ROTC program at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City came to deliver the message that her son had been killed in Afghanistan.
   Master Sgt. Davis, 39, of Watauga; Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Petithory, 32, of Massachusetts; and Staff Sgt. Brian Cody Prosser, 28, of California, were killed Wednesday by friendly fire when an Air Force B-52 bomber missed its target, dropping a bomb carrying 2,000 pounds of explosives near U.S. soldiers' position north of Kandahar.
   Mrs. Davis felt so strongly that something was wrong, she stayed home, rather than go to The Barn Shoppe to help her husband, Lon, with the family business.
   "I was obsessed with the TV, and I heard (initial reports that) these two boys got killed. I kept praying the other boys would be all right and hoping that mine wasn't in it. I had no idea. I went outside and did a little yard work and came back in.
   "Lon came up from the store -- it must have been about 11:30 a.m. -- and we were talking and I said, 'What happens if your son or somebody gets killed? How do they tell you?'
   "He said, 'They come and tell you.'
   "I told him, 'I have a bad feeling. I just don't feel right.'
   "I don't know if it was a premonition or what. I just said, 'Oh,' and I went on back to ironing. And then it wasn't 15 minutes and these men were standing at my door. I didn't even want to look at them because I knew what they were there for.
   "It was just such a shock. Poor little Lon. I guess I left him hanging there. I didn't want to talk to them," she said.
   "Donnie" Davis, as he was known by friends and family, "was always for the underdog," his father said, and "had a heart as big as Texas," according to his mother. "He was always very considerate."
   He became interested in the military after taking a class at ETSU.
   "He came home one day and he had taken a survival training course," his mother said. "He was the only one that was not in ROTC and his instructor came up to him and asked him what he was doing in there. He said, 'Because I like this type of thing.'
   "The instructor said, 'Well, why don't you join the Army then if you like it that well?' and he said, 'Well, I just think I will.'
   "He came home from school that day and he said, 'Mamma, what would you think if I told you I wanted to join the Army?' And I said, 'Son, it's your life and you have to live it the way you want to. You have to do what you think is best. I guess if that's what you want to do, you do it," Mrs. Davis said.
   "And then we discussed it with his dad and that's what he wanted to do. You can't live their lives for them," she said.
   Donnie signed up for the Army and reported at the end of the semester in August 1983, his mother said.
   As a member of the 5th Special Forces Group, 101st Division, this was not Donnie's first mission.
   "He'd been over there several times to different places in the Middle East training their Special Forces teams," his father said.
   He didn't talk much about Afghanistan, other than "he thought a lot of the men hid behind their religion -- not Christianity, but their religion," his father said.
   "But he really wasn't one that talked about other people a lot or put them down or their way of life. That's the reason he had so many friends."
   The family last saw Donnie shortly before his 39th birthday.
   "We went down to see him on Oct. 7 and we said our good-bye's then," Mrs. Davis said.
   Donnie called her Oct. 13 before he shipped out, but his mother said that this time, they didn't go. The family's previous visit ended "on a happy note with everybody 'up.'
   "I told him, you take what time you've got left before you go into isolation and spend it with your little family because they need you. The daughter was having a rough time," Mrs. Davis said. "She's very close to her daddy.
   "Of course, that was the last that we really talked to him," his mother said.
   Donnie went into isolation Oct. 14, eight days before his 39th birthday.
   "We didn't get to send him a birthday gift or card. He didn't really have a place to send it. Special Forces is very secretive in what they do and we wouldn't want to say anything to hurt the boys," Mrs. Davis said.
   Donnie's sister, Debra Sams of Watauga, said she and her brother, Danny, last saw Donnie a couple of weeks before he left.
   "I've got pictures of us together. I'm so glad that I did that now because we didn't have any pictures of just us three.
   "I'm very proud of him. I was pregnant with my son when he joined the Army and I'm the one that took him to Johnson City to the recruiting office. I remember me being pregnant with Wesley and crying all the way back.
   "I'm just glad I got to talk to him before he left that Sunday morning. We talked about 45 minutes that Saturday night. He told me how scared he was and to make sure that we took care of his kids.
   "We were very close," Debra said. "It's very hard. I hate for anybody to go through this. I never dreamed that my family would be going through this."
   Debra said her brother was very proud to serve his country.
   "He didn't want to leave his family but he said, 'I am very proud that I am in the military and am going to be able to do this.' But he was scared," she said.
   According to Mrs. Davis, the three siblings were very close.
   "I tell everybody it just warms my heart to see the kids loving each other and them being adults, because lots of times kids fight for various reasons and they don't have anything to say to each other. They had their squabbles as kids, but as they got older I believe they got closer, really," she said.
   The Davis family left Watauga Wednesday afternoon for Clarksville, the home of Donnie's wife, My Kyong, and his children: Christina, 13, and Jessie, 10.
   "My Kyong called and said, 'Get here as fast as you can," Mrs. Davis said.
   Funeral arrangements are incomplete, according to the family.
   "We know they're bringing him to Germany and then from there, we don't know," Mrs. Davis said.
   "The only thing we know is they're going to have a memorial service for him at Ft. Campbell when he gets back, and then we'll bring him home," his father said.