Pacific Spotlight: Fire Controlman 2nd Class Branden Davis
You belong to a swordsman organization. What’s that all about? It was originally called MELEE and is now called Apokrypha. It’s a group of people who enjoy combat using “safe” versions of hand weapons from various cultures throughout history. … from ancient Celts to feudal Japanese and everything between.
Do you re-enact battles? Battles vary. I have seen around 300 people on the field. We may fight a “1 man battle royal” — every man for himself — or we may call a “faction battle” where pre-formed teams fight for supremacy. Or we may call a “Tale of Two Kingdoms” where we all form in two teams and go at it.
How “real” does the fighting get? We are all out to have a good time so we try not to injure anybody. Still, we will tackle or shield-bash our way through a heavily armored line in order to break through and disrupt an opposition battle plan.
Battlefield casualties? I have had knee injuries, broken fingers and toes, and even had my front two teeth knocked through my top lip from a shield to the face from a close friend. (Only two stitches that day.) Sometimes when the battle is close, you can forget for a few moments that it isn't real. Those are the memories that stay with you.
What was the worst you’ve seen? I saw a guy charge and get his pinky finger stuck in the armor of a team mate. The finger was broken with exposed bone when the two fighters collapsed from the impact.
Could you take a date to the battlefield? Yes. In fact, I did it often (to show off).
Could this be more effective than marital counseling? True. I know married couples who fought out there. It seemed to offer a safe(ish) way for those couples to compete and support each other.
What is your favorite time period to fight in? I always liked the 1400s-1500s in Europe. Intricate armor and heavy weapons. Gunpowder ended that era.
Are there any must-read books if you want to get all martial on somebody? We read the Sun-Tzu “Art of War” and lots of old special-forces military handbooks.
Best sword-fighting scene in a movie? The fight between Wesley and Inigo Montoya in the moviefied version of “The Princess Bride.”
OK, then what’s the funnier sword-fighting scene … when Indiana Jones coolly shoots the flamboyant swordsman or Monty Python’s “It’s just a flesh wound” bit? I’m a HUGE Indiana Jones fan. He wins hands down.
Does a fire controlman get to blow stuff up? Real fire controlmen put ordnance on target.
What makes a good sailor? One who knows his/her job and does it.
What makes a great one? One who knows part of his/her job is to take care of their people.
What’s next? I finish my enlistment and go home. I’ll raise fat babies and live a good long life. Or at least a good life.
Branden Jarred DavisAge: 30Title: Petty officer second class, fire controlmanUnit: USS Kitty Hawk, Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan
Pacific readers: Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Call Paul Newell at Stars and Stripes with the person’s name and contact information at DSN 229-3158 or e-mail him at: email@example.com.