CUMBERLAND, Va. (WTVR - This marine, with 23 years of service and two recent tours, has found serenity on his local farm.
“A lot of people know when they talk about Freedom Farm they know it’s my farm”
When it comes to finding serenity, Dolph Davis has hit the lottery.
There is no place he and his two dogs, Duncan and Jake, would rather be than his 35 acres of peace and quiet in Cartersville.
His Freedom Farm is a little slice of heaven worlds away from the hell he has seen from his chopper. Lt. Col. Davis flies assault choppers for the United States Marines, he started out in 2004 through 2006 in Iraq.
“We did get shot at, and shot at on a regular basis,” said Davis.
During his two tours, Davis carried fellow Marines straight into the danger zone.
He maneuvered through sandstorms, heat seeking missiles and a hail of bullets. He never knew if the next mission would be his last.
“You’d take off about 9:30 at night and return at about three or four o’clock in the morning,” said Davis. “A couple of the aircraft got hit one or two times.”
“It is one of the hazards of the job. It is a known hazard. It is just something we deal with.”
With 23 years in the military this veteran pilot stopped counting how many brushes with disaster lie under his belt.
“The thing about flying a helicopter is that people joked that it is not if something is going to happen, but when it is going to happen,” said Davis
With the help of night vision goggles Davis would land on rooftops in enemy territory in the dead of night.
“When it is going on it is all business,” he said. “That goes for the guys getting on the chopper, to the guys in back to the pilots up front.”
He and his fellow pilots never leave a fellow Marine behind.
“If there is someone that needs the help. You’re not even going to think twice about it.”
He said that flying into harm’s way can be exhilarating yet taxing. “I’m an adrenaline junkie but there is only so much I can take before I got to come back and get my feet on earth.”
Davis is considered one of the most senior men in the squadron and not because of his rank.
“We’re the Wild Goose but over there they called us the Gray Geese, because of all the old guys.”
Davis, 52, said younger pilots may enjoy sharper reflexes, but lack something just as vital.
“As far as the age thing, the eyes are a little bit more tireder, the hair is gone and a little bit more weight--but you can’t say enough about experience”
Davis doesn’t know if his next set of orders will include the skies over Afghanistan.
“Do I want to go?”
“No I’m happy here, but would I go?”
“Shoot yeah,” said Davis, “I mean that is your job.”
Meanwhile, Davis and his dogs cherish their time, with paws on the ground.
“As far as the ride I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
”I’m so blessed to do what I do.”
He’s flown through hell, but he’s finally finding his runway to Freedom Farm.