North Texas Daily

Veteran enjoys brotherhood among UNT rugby teammates

Veteran enjoys brotherhood among UNT rugby teammates

April 22
22:27 2013

Shelbi Mascheri, Renee Hansen / Contributing Writers

After walking nearly 100 miles in the African desert, U.S. and French Army soldiers trudged on, conserving the little water they had while keeping their energy up the best they could.

The soldiers had close to one mile left of the French Desert Survival Training Course when yelling broke out at the front of the group.  Twenty-year-old American soldier Sgt. Steven Davidson ran toward the cries.

“We weren’t adequately prepared for what we were going to encounter,” Davidson said.

When he got to the scene, he saw a fellow American soldier seizing and suffering from a heat stroke. Davidson, now a UNT anthropology, previously had experience learning technics in high school as an athletic trainer.

He pulled out his scissors and cut off the soldier’s boots. He then passed them off to the others and told them to cut off the seizing man’s clothes. They dripped shreds of his clothing in the little water they had left and placed them on his heat-radiating body. They called for a helicopter, but it would take close to two hours for medics to show up.

“We were all pretty convinced he wasn’t going to make it,” Davidson said.

French medics arrived, but weren’t doing anything to help. So Davidson took their equipment and stayed with the soldier until the helicopter arrived.

While waiting, he tried putting a breathing mask on the soldier, but the seizing man wouldn’t cooperate. He would fight him until he passed out. Davidson put a mask on himself and told everyone else to do the same, to make the soldier feel more comfortable. When he woke up and saw everyone else with one on, he finally cooperated.

“If you ask him, he would tell you that he did what anybody else would do in that situation, that he was just acting off of reflexes,” said Jason Bramow, Davidson’s best friend.

When Davidson returned home after a 12-month deployment, Bramow took the liberty to nominate him for 2012 Military Times Service Member of the Year for what he had done in the desert.

“What Steven did on that day in the desert, while suffering from sleep deprivation, dehydration, hunger, and exhaustion, are the actions of a true hero,” Bramow said.

Davidson said he is very passionate about community service and has been volunteering since 2009 through Northwest High School in Justin, Texas, where he attended.

Aside from being in the Army and doing community service, another love of Davidson’s is rugby.

He played for two years in high school and now plays for the UNT rugby club team. Before he left for his deployment in April 2011, Davidson practiced with the UNT rugby team. Though he did not yet attend the school, the team was very welcoming to him.

“It just didn’t feel right not going here when they were all so good to me,” Davidson said.

One of Davidson’s rugby teammates and kinesiology junior Alex Szymanowski, who is also the rugby team president, became his best friend.

“I knew him a little before he left, but not nearly the way I know him now,” Szymanowski said. “He was definitely different [when he came back], but I think it was easier to relate to him. He enjoys talking and I enjoy listening.”

Alex also likes hearing stories from Davidson’s trip to Africa, and gets a little jealous of him getting to play rugby for the Army.

Davidson said the difference in playing with the Army is they train much harder, play against other armed forces teams across the world and have athletes that are sent to the Olympics. But Davidson says UNT’s team has more brotherhood.

“I see them all the time and I feel connected to them,” Davidson said.

Due to recent injury while playing, Davidson has been unable to practice with the team, but often comes out to practices and games to show camaraderie and support.

“We take care of each other [on and off the field],” Szymanowski said

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