MOUNT PLEASANT — As members of American Legion McCook Post 529 fired their weapons for a 21-gun salute and played taps on a bugle, more than 75 people inside the Mount Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department remembered U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Brett Davidson.
“He was intense, passionate, goofy,” said Jessica Orban, who had been a classmate of Davidson’s at Buckeye Local High School and known the airman for about 20 years. “He loved hard and he loved strong.”
The memorial service held Saturday afternoon was the second for Davidson, who had most recently lived in Clarksville, Tennessee.
The 37-year-old airman who grew up in Eastern Ohio was found dead in the water July 14 after he had apparently drowned in the Lake of the Ozarks in Morgan County, Missouri.
Davidson had reportedly been in Missouri as part of a training mission with the Air Force. He went missing from a dock the night of July 13 and was found in the water the next morning, according to an incident report from the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The patrol says it is still investigating his death.
“They are not saying anything,” said Linda Young, a friend of Davidson’s mother, Darlene Hennebert. “It was 100 degrees out that day, and they went down to the dock after they were done. They were supposed to leave (for Tennessee) the next day.”
Hennebert said her son signed up for the Air Force during his senior year when he was still just 17 years old.
“He wanted to start right away, but he head to finish up high school,” she said.
During his more than 18 years in the military, Davidson was deployed overseas seven times, including four combat deployments, his mother said. He had been to Afghanistan and served the Air Force as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Davidson also had received the Bronze Star Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, three Army Commendation medals, the Air Force Achievement Medal and two Army achievement medals.
At the time of his death, Davidson was with the Tactical Air Control Party as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller and an Operations Superintendent. He was stationed at the 19th Air Support Operations Squadrom in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
But his family said they remember him as a fun-loving man who grew up playing sports and being active in Boy Scouts. Hennebert said he was into karate, rock climbing, guns and riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle. He also kept people in mind back in his hometown.
“Every return from overseas, he always would return back to the Valley to his roots, to catch back up with his family and his friends that he loved,” she said.
His mother said Davidson started talking about enlisting in the military when he was 4. Both of his grandfathers had been military men: One in the Navy during World War II and the other in the Army during the Korean conflict. Hennebert said Davidson wanted to follow in their footsteps. His siblings, Bryton Davidson and Brittany Davidson, did not share the same passion for the military, she said.
“Brett did it for all of us so we didn’t have to,” Hennebert said.
Young said 22 people from the Ohio Valley went to Davidson’s funeral service July 21 in Tennessee. He was given full military honors, including a fly-over.
“It was a beautiful ceremony,” said Young. “When they did roll call, and there was this silence … my heart just broke.”
Meanwhile, his friends said that given his military training, it is difficult for them to process how Davidson died.
“He probably would have been disappointed in the way he went out,” said Orban.