Aibano Training Area, Japan – While many East coast residents begin to focus on recovering from the damage left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, a New Jersey native must stay focused on an entirely different task.
Sgt. Craig D. Davis, from Medford, N.J., a team leader with Company B, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, is currently participating in Orient Shield 12 at Aibano Training Area near Imazu City, Japan and must stay focused on his role in making the bilateral training with the Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) a success.
Although nearly half a world away from the devastation, Davis felt the impact of the storm when he learned that his uncle and aunt, Frank and Linda Massimo, along with his cousin, and grandfather, Ronald Davis, Sr. were displaced from their Ocean City, N.J. home.
“I would love to help them right now, but I know where I’m at right now is where my family wants me to be,” said Davis. “They wouldn’t ask for me to come back. They’re very proud of where I am and what I’m doing.”
Davis had been tracking the movement of the storm through conversations with his father and checking Facebook updates. According to Davis, the storm ultimately got to the point where his aunt and uncle determined that they could no longer hold out and then decided to evacuate.
“The main concern was my grandfather getting the care he needed,” said Davis. “He’s on home dialysis and now they have to get him back and forth to the hospital a couple times a week to get his dialysis.”
Davis’ military family has done their best to empathize with him and do what they can to help.
“It’s got to be tough for him knowing that his family has been displaced,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael E. Cook, from Concord, Calif., a platoon sergeant with Company B, 1/14th. “But at the same time I have talked to him quite a bit about it, and he knows that his family is OK and the only things that are damaged is stuff. He’s a soldier, we’re soldiers, and obviously if he needs something we’re there for him.”
Orient Shield is an annual exercise that focuses on the development and refinement of the JGSDF and U.S. Army Pacific efforts in the area of bilateral planning, coordination, and interoperability through training at the battalion level.
The training at Orient Shield 12 culminates in a field training exercise (FTX), during which Davis is part of a quick reactionary force that responds to and provides support for an ever-shifting battlefield at the orders of the commander. Since Soldiers fight like they train, a clear mind during the FTX is paramount.
“My family and people on the East Coast are in the back of my mind, but it doesn’t deter me from doing my job in any way,” said Davis. “I’m always focused on the mission at hand, but of course I’m always thinking of them.”