Torn by war, separated by language, veteran learns meaning of letter
PORTLAND, Ore. – A few months after Staff Sgt. Sean Davis returned home after being wounded in Iraq he received a letter brought to him by a soldier on leave.
The envelope had no address. But Davis' name was written on it and so was the name of the man who wrote it: Case.
Davis met Case in 2004 while serving in Iraq.
"Every night, Case and his family would come out and bring us rice and chicken, and wouldn't take any money for it," Davis says.
Davis was injured in an explosion that also killed his friend.
He has had the letter for several years, but he couldn’t read it for two reasons: It was written in Arabic and it was too difficult emotionally.
But recently he took the letter to Dar Salam, a small restaurant among the colorful buildings on Northeast Alberta Street that is run by Ghaith Sahib and Maath Hamed, friends from Iraq.
With the help of his newfound friends at the restaurant, Davis was ready just a few months ago to reopen the letter and finally learn its meaning more than eight years after it arrived.
"This letter is for my best of friend, Sgt. Davis," Davis reads from the letter translated by the owners of Dar Salam. "I'm so sorry because we lost you and we'll never see you again. We will really miss you because you are the best man for us. At the same time, we are so happy because you get to go home and come back to your family."
Davis doesn't know how Case's family is doing now, and he worries about them. But he knows what he would say if he had the chance.
"Thanks for showing me and other people that there's humanity even on the battlefield," he says.
Davis will never forget them or the meaning of the words in the letter.
"Thank God for saving you," Davis reads from the end of the letter. "Really, we miss you. Thanks my friend. (Signed) Case."
Another local man got to know that same Iraqi family that wrote the letter to Davis but Spc. Eric McKinley, from Philomath, didn't get to come home. He died in the same explosion that injured Davis in 2004.
Davis says McKinley even gave that family a TV so the kids could watch cartoons. So the letter is a reminder of the impact they all had on each other.
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