Air Force veteran waits 15 years to join the reserves

Dec. 10—Today’s Veteran: Jessie Wayne Davis, 76

Birth: Waycross

Residence: Camden County

Service: Air Force, 4 years active duty, 23+ in Air Force Reserve

Functions: combat communications

Rank: Chief Master Sergeant

Accolades: Vietnam Service Medal; Vietnam Campaign Medal; War on Terrorism Medal; Meritorious Service Medal; Air Force Achievement Medal; Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Air Force Commendation Medal; Joint Service Commendation Medal

Duty Stations: Vietnam, Lackland Air Force Base; Amarillo Air Force Base; Hunter Air Force Base; Travis Air Force Base; Brunswick, Egypt, Afghanistan; Korea; Alaska; Honduras

Her Story: Jessie Wayne Davis enlisted in the Air Force after graduating from high school.

His father was a career military man, and Davis said he was ready for something different.

“I was fed up with the army,” he said.

Davis’ initial plan was to enlist in the Marine Corps, but the recruiter was not in his office three days in a row, but an Air Force recruiter was available, so he chose that route.

“I didn’t care at the time,” he said.

After completing all of his training, Davis was posted to Travis Air Force Base in California, the last stop before Vietnam.

“We went out into the field to support the Army and the Marine Corps,” he said.

He was responsible for establishing combat communications centers for units in the field. He said there were “a lot of times” he didn’t think he’d make it home.

“Every day they put body bags on planes,” he said.

Following his tour of duty, Davis decided to leave active duty in 1968. Fifteen years later, Davis was working at the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base when he decided, at age 36, to enlist in the Air Force Reserve.

Technology had changed during that time, so Davis had to take electronics courses to catch up.

Due to his work, his unit would participate in training exercises from 29 days to two months. He trained six times in Egypt, three in Alaska, Honduras and Korea.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Davis was called to active duty for two years. They sent him to Afghanistan, where, as a chief master sergeant, he wasn’t in as much danger as he was in Vietnam, but it was still a combat zone.

“Combat is combat. I don’t care where you are,” he said.

One of the benefits of her trip was that she took the opportunity to learn more about the local culture.

“It’s always been fascinating to see how other people live,” he said.

The decision to enlist in the Air Force helped make him the man he is today, he said.

Davis said he never envisioned his role as the male lead when he first enlisted.

“Many times they force you to assume a role,” he said. “You grow a lot and you learn to take care of yourself.”