The Fight for Joy: Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Davis lost three limbs, nearly his life while serving his country

Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 12:40 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 11, 2022 at 3:55 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Davis always dreamt of serving his country.

“I think I was born with a bit of gratitude for my country and the men who had served before me. The lifestyle of a warrior has always been a calling of mine.”

But when he first went to join the Army in 2012, it seemed more like a nightmare to his wife Asia.

“I was not on board. I said ‘no’ and sent him a video of this little girl crying because her dad was gone.”

But after some reflection, “the next day I went up to him and said, ‘you need to join. You need to do it.’”

Just like that Ryan’s military career began.

“Then when I got in, I began to chase being the guy and being in the fight,” Ryan said.

Ryan became an Army Ranger and seven years later he found himself deployed in Afghanistan, where his life would be changed forever.

“We were doing pretty routine things one First Ranger Battalion night getting bad guys. Something happened in the midst of grenade fight and I was left without both legs and an arm,” Ryan recalls.

Asia’s fear, come to life.

“It was, it was rough. It wasn’t a good phone call at all, it was a shock. You don’t expect that. A lot of times when he does leave you expect more of a knock on the door than a phone call saying, ‘you can’t talk to your husband,’ and you don’t know if he’s going to make it. It was hard,” says Asia.

While Ryan fought for his life, rather than block out the memory of the incident he found strength from it.

“I remember all of it; I think that’s one reason it doesn’t haunt me. I thought it was really cool seeing my buddies doing some amazing things. Seeing younger soldiers, I got to kind of raise, step up to the plate and do awesome things to make sure I could come home.”

Although he didn’t fear the memory of that night, he did fear how his son, only six at that time might react.

“I was terrified to see him after I had kind of woken up with legs and missing an arm. I was worried Knox was going to come in like, ‘oh my God what is going on here?’ He comes in the room and he’s like, ‘dad, you don’t have any legs. That’s awesome!’ Me and Asia and Knox laughed about it. I think I was crying, but it was like a joyful cry. He kind of sparked the resiliency that our family needed at the moment.”

A resilience sparked by his son but held together by his wife.

“Where do you think you’d be without her in your life?”

“Now that’s something scary to think about right there. Without Asia there would have been so much tumultuous unknown that I would’ve had to work through by myself. She’s been tough this whole time and you need tough if you’re going to go through something like this,” says Ryan.

So, now three years later, life may look a little different than it did before, but Ryan and Asia aren’t letting what happened define who they are.

“Life isn’t easy as it is, you know. Even being limbs and all life isn’t easy. So, to see him succeed and just be happy and outgoing and loving and still wanting to do things. I’ve always said we’re not going to stop living just because this happened, and he hasn’t. It may be hard to get down here in this wheelchair, but he still goes out, we still go to dinner, we still travel,” Asia said.

“Yeah guys I don’t know how many limbs you have to lose to get out of date night but it’s not three,” joked Ryan.

Perhaps their laughter, their clear vest for life itself is proof enough that their joy isn’t based in what happened to them, but rather it’s something they choose to find themselves every day.

“My problems are very real, every day you wake up to them. You build yourself strong in character so that when these things come up you can still be happy. You can still enjoy the great things life does have to offer inside of the pain you go through every day. I always thought of this as a token that our country asked me to carry and I will gladly carry it until we’re done here and I’m going to have a good time doing it,” Ryan said.

Gary Sinise Foundation is in the process of building a new accessible home for Ryan and Asia in Richmond Hill.

They hope to move into the home in 2023