Army Spc. Taylor Davis, from New Hope, far right, pauses for a photo after Taylor and his UH-60 Army helicopter crew were assigned to fly Vice President Mike Pence from Tokyo to Yokota AFB on Feb. 8. Left to right are Lt. Col. Bryan Jones, Chief Warrant Officer Christ Purser, the Vice President and Taylor. Taylor has served as a helicopter crew chief for two years after joining the Army in 2012. Photo by: Courtesy photo
February 19, 2018 10:39:27 AM
Being a crew chief on a military helicopter is not always the most glamorous job, Army Spc. Taylor Davis admits.
"It's a tough, dirty, exhausting job," he said. "But the time we spend in the sky makes up for it."
And of course flying the vice president of the United States -- that makes up for it too.
As crew chief, the 23-year-old who grew up in Columbus and graduated from New Hope High School was the first to greet Vice President Mike Pence on a special flight from Tokyo to Yokota Air Force Base on Feb. 8.
"It's difficult for me to explain (the experience), honestly," Davis said. "After seeing him only in sources from the news, it was amazing to speak to and hear from him face to face."
For two years now, Davis has been a crew chief on an Army UH-60L Blackhawk helicopter. Part of that duty - in fact, most of it - includes maintaining the helicopter and getting it ready to fly. His service has taken him from Germany to Poland and, most recently, Japan and has given him a greater appreciation for the military and his own family's role in it.
"From flying over the skies of Germany and Japan where the greatest generation sacrificed so much to ensure our nation lived on, to flying over Okinawa which is where my grandfather, who was a naval officer, was on the day Japan surrendered and World War II came to an end," Davis said. "I have had many unbelievable experiences while flying for the Army."
Of those experiences, meeting Pence was the best, he said.
His general impression of the vice president was that he was down-to-earth, sincere and grateful for the service Davis' crew provided on the short flight. After landing, Pence chatted comfortably with the crew for about five minutes and posed with the crew in front of the helicopter.
Davis said Pence thanked him and his crew for their service and for the sacrifices they and their families made.
"I was incredibly impressed by his thankfulness," Davis said "His gratitude and compassion for all Americans who wore the uniform past and present was so clearly expressed. After this experience I saw him as man of faith, great respect and one who loves this country just as we all do."
Word of Davis' mission didn't take long to make it back home to his mom, Kim Kyle in New Hope, and his dad, Derrick Davis, in Texas.
"We're both so proud of him," said Kyle, who keeps up with her son through social media." When he decided to go into the Army right after high school, I wasn't crazy about the idea. I wanted him close to home. But he's had so many great experiences in the Army. He's got another year in Japan, so it's still hard to have him so far away from home. But I'm so proud of what he's doing."
Davis said he and his crew quickly returned to their daily routine, which for Davis means a lot of hard work on the ground. Such is the life of a crew chief.
But Davis said the honor of flying the vice president is a memory he'll cherish.
"It was an unforgettable experience and definitely the highlight of my military career," he said.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]
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