A Young Soldier Finds Comfort In An Unexpected Delivery Roman Coley Davis was stationed in Afghanistan when the loneliness of war began to seep in. He tells a friend how a surprise package from his hometown 7,000 miles away brought him immense solace.
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A Young Soldier Finds Comfort In An Unexpected Delivery

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A Young Soldier Finds Comfort In An Unexpected Delivery

A Young Soldier Finds Comfort In An Unexpected Delivery

A Young Soldier Finds Comfort In An Unexpected Delivery

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/600140283/600482884" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Davis, center, during his deployment to Afghanistan, where he served for nearly a year and a half as a human intelligence collector. Courtesy of Roman Coley Davis hide caption

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Courtesy of Roman Coley Davis

Davis, center, during his deployment to Afghanistan, where he served for nearly a year and a half as a human intelligence collector.

Courtesy of Roman Coley Davis

StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the U.S. military and their families.

Good things come in small packages — it's a proverbial truth that, for one veteran, holds up even in the middle of war.

At 20 years old, Pfc. Roman Coley Davis found himself 7,000 miles from home. Born in Douglas, Ga., he'd joined the military after high school, and was now living in one of the most remote U.S. outposts in Afghanistan.

In an interview at StoryCorps, Davis, now 32, tells his friend Dan Marek, 40, about a special delivery from home that brought him immense comfort as a young soldier in the throes of conflict.

At the time, Davis was serving in the U.S. Army as a human intelligence collector stationed in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan.

"We were essentially in a black zone," he tells Marek. "If you walk outside of the wire, there's almost a 100 percent chance that someone's dying or coming back wounded — if you come back."

At their StoryCorps interview in New York City, Roman Davis, left, tells his friend Dan Marek about the special delivery that lifted his spirits during wartime. Sylvie Lubow/StoryCorps hide caption

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Sylvie Lubow/StoryCorps

At their StoryCorps interview in New York City, Roman Davis, left, tells his friend Dan Marek about the special delivery that lifted his spirits during wartime.

Sylvie Lubow/StoryCorps

During what turned into almost a year-and-a-half span, Davis says his team was dealt the crucial task of tracking high-profile targets, including Osama Bin Laden. "We were involuntarily extended," he says. "I remember during that time being incredibly homesick and just lost, if you will, in the middle of a war."

In between the dispiriting stretches of days, he recalls a moment of respite. A Black Hawk helicopter flew into the valley, and dropped off bright yellow U.S. Mail bags. Soon after, a sergeant called out Davis' nickname: "Peaches, come up here, you got some mail."

"I wasn't expecting mail," Davis says. But the radio call sign, "Peaches," belonged to none other than the south Georgia native.

It was a package from home. He dug into it, like buried treasure. "It was this big, huge thing wrapped in aluminum foil," he says. "I take off this layer of aluminum foil, and there's more aluminum foil, and like 30 layers of foil and plastic wrap, and this, that and the other."

Davis poses for a picture with his grandmother, "Mema" Laverne Tanner, whose special delivery from 7,000 miles away eased some of her grandson's homesickness. Courtesy of Dailey Hubbard hide caption

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Courtesy of Dailey Hubbard

Davis poses for a picture with his grandmother, "Mema" Laverne Tanner, whose special delivery from 7,000 miles away eased some of her grandson's homesickness.

Courtesy of Dailey Hubbard

His "Mema," what Davis calls his grandmother, had baked him a sour cream pound cake. "I've seen my Mema bake this for people whose mothers have died. It's something that she takes to those who grieve," he says.

"And then here I am, and I'm in a foreign country, in a hostile environment, and that same pound cake is now sitting in front of me."

So he pulled out a Ka-Bar combat knife and cut it into a dozen large chunks in front of his 12-man team. Everyone got a slice.

"I ate mine first — and I cried," he says. Davis felt overwhelmed. "I think that if we had dined in her kitchen the moment that it cooled and she took the towels off of it, it could not have been as fresh as it was there on that mountainside."

He continues, "And, for that one moment, I felt loved, even though I was lonely. The pound cake was clean, even though I was so dirty. It was cold, and that pound cake warmed me."

"It was just like Mema was there."

When Davis returned to the U.S. from Afghanistan, he used his GI Bill to attend culinary school. But, he says, he still can't quite make that sour cream pound cake as well as his Mema.


Audio produced for Weekend Edition by Aisha Turner.

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.