U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs
SOUTHWEST ASIA, July 17, 2012 – What does the word "gym" mean to you? Does it mean the blood, sweat and tears of weight training and cardio to get in tip-top shape? Does it symbolize a place where your buddies meet to blow off steam?
To Air Force 1st Lt. Noel Carroll, it is a place where she feels at home. It is a place where she goes to feel her brother's presence and know that a gym to him meant sculpting the perfect machine and hanging out with his "bros." You see, her gym is named after her brother, Tim Davis, who died in Afghanistan in 2009.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Tim Davis was a combat controller, one of the most highly trained special operations forces in the U.S. military. He was on his second deployment when he lost his life to a roadside bomb leaving behind a wife and a year-old son.
"When we lost Tim, I was an [emergency room] nurse working in Seattle," Carroll said. "I knew immediately I wanted to go overseas and take care of wounded soldiers. When I heard about flight nursing and flying the wounded soldiers home, I knew that was what I wanted to do, so I signed up for the Air Force."
Today, Carroll is an aeromedical evacuation flight nurse stationed at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Her office is a flying hospital aboard a C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules or KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft. On a daily basis, she flies throughout Afghanistan picking up wounded troops and doing her best to ensure they make it back safe and sound to Craig Hospital at Bagram Airfield for medical care.
And just like Carroll, a combat controller is also a protector. Their motto, "First There," reaffirms the combat controller's commitment to undertaking the most dangerous missions behind enemy lines by leading the way for other forces to follow.
One of Davis' closest friends and teammates, Air Force Master Sgt. Ken Huhman, said Tim lived by that motto.
"He was an incredible teammate who always put others before himself without any complaints," Huhman said. "There are many things that make up a CCT, but one of the most important things is the team mentality, one's willingness to put others before themselves."
A combat controller is not for the faint of heart, but Davis' former commander Air Force Col. Brett Nelson said if you want to become one,one, Tim was the model: loyal, physically strong, mentally tough, disciplined and never satisfied with good-enough.
"They have a strong sense of right and wrong," Carroll said. "They are naturally competitive, strong-willed and willing to take risks. They are silent heroes, not ones to boast or brag. They are willing to lay down their lives for their loved ones ... And that's just what Tim was and just what Tim did. I am truly thankful for his service and for laying down his life for his family and country. I am so proud of all his accomplishments; he definitely left his mark in this world and in people's hearts."
It was no surprise to anyone in Davis' family that he became a combat controller.
"Tim's nature was one of protecting, even as a young boy," said Tim's dad, Mike Davis. "All his life he befriended the underdog, helped them fit in and achieve."
Nelson said there was a lot that was special about Tim, but his leadership founded through personal discipline is what he remembers the most, along with Tim's very competitive nature.
"This competitive nature was really just a manifestation of his personal discipline -- if someone performed a task better than he, he recognized a personal responsibility to be better and set out to do just that," Nelson said. "His leadership excellence resulted from this great personal discipline coupled with a quiet, confident nature that was encouraging, not intimidating."
Keeping physically fit is critical, Huhman said.
"Due to the rigorous physical demands, fitness is essential to not only success, but your survival and the safety and survival of your team."
This, and discipline is what earned Davis his nickname, "The Rock," Carroll said. And it is very fitting, she said, that the gym at Bagram Airfield carries her brother’s nickname because he loved exercise.
"I remember one of his friends saying Tim was the only one he could get to run the stairs with him carrying five gallon buckets in each hand filled with sand," Davis' dad said. "If Tim had left us instructions, I think he would have said, 'If you guys have to put my name on something after I'm gone, don't put it on a lake or a rock or a field ... put it on a gym.'"