‘Just a really hard job’
For David Lewis, receiving a Bronze Star isn’t a big deal; but mother, Diana Stout of Washington, couldn’t be prouder of her son.
“He was back here three months ago and he told me, ‘I’m up for the Bronze Star, but I don’t know,’ and that’s all he said,” Stout said. “I was freaking out.”
Stout found out last week that her son had been honored with the Bronze Star. Lewis’s wife Janet posted it on Facebook. After Stout saw it, she sent a message to her daughter-in-law asking for the details.
“I thought this would be a big production that family could be at,” Stout said. “I think it was just that he was up for it, he got it, and they did it [the pinning ceremony].”
According to Lewis the ceremony was short and simple.
“I was surprised,” Lewis said. “I’m the only person of my rank that received it.”
Lewis is a Chief Warrant Officer in the 3rd Combat Aviation unit. He is an Apache helicopter pilot. He is pretty humble about the award.
He asked his wife not to post it on Facebook because he didn’t want a big deal made out of it.
“To me it’s not a big deal,” Lewis said. “I received it for just doing my job.”
The Bronze Star was awarded to Lewis as a Meritorious Service Medal for his years of service in the Army. He has been in the Army since his senior year at Muscatine High School in 1998.
“I went into the Army because I hated school,” Lewis said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do. There aren’t too many jobs on the outside where you can work on a $30 million dollar aircraft.”
Since joining the Army, Lewis has done five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. When asked about his job as a helicopter pilot he said one simple sentence.
“It’s just a really hard job,” Lewis said.
Before Lewis became an Apache helicopter pilot, he was an Army Ranger. He remembers the day he made the decision to switch modes from Ranger to pilot.
“They call them ‘jump and hops,’” Lewis said. “You would walk 40 clicks doing a ‘jump and hop.’ I remember looking up to the sky and seeing a helicopter flying overhead and saying, ‘I’m tired of walking.’”
The next day Lewis walked into the office and asked for a transfer. Shortly after he was transferred to Georgia.
The time Lewis spent with the Army Rangers was worrisome for Stout. She would keep the television on to see if there
was any news about him or his division.
She remembers the first time he left. It was shortly after 9/11.
“The first time David went over it was just horrible,” Stout said. “I called him right before he was getting ready to leave after 9/11 and he said ‘Mom, this is what I do. This is my job. I know what I’m doing. I’ll be fine.’”
Since then Stout hasn’t pressed her son much about the missions he has been involved in.
“He doesn’t like to talk about it that much,” she said.
If he does speak about the missions, he is vague, Stout said. She remembers two cases in particular that Lewis was involved in.
“He was in two different situations that people may know about,” Stout said. “One was the Jessica Lynch rescue in Iraq.”
She remembers talking to him about Jessica Lynch, and all he said was she was in really bad shape when they found her.
The other battle was the battle of Takur Ghar. Three or four rangers were lost in that battle, Stout said. One of them was her son’s best friend, Mark. Lewis named his son after him.
“With Afghanistan, he just doesn’t talk about it that much,” Stout said.
In December, Lewis will be coming to visit for Christmas. He will spend some time in Muscatine, with his father, Stacy Lewis, and stepmother Patty. Then he will spend some time with his mother and stepfather, Steve.
It will be the first time in 15 years he will be together with his siblings for a holiday in Iowa.
“It will be nice to see everybody,” he said. “I don’t get a chance to see everybody that often. I’ve been deployed three times to Iraq, went to South Korea for 3 ½ years, and then had two more deployments. I look forward to being home.”