VANCOUVER, Wash. A Navy war veteran is finding peace, exercise and even competition on a Vancouver lake far removed from the Persian Gulf where he served.
Tony Davis of La Center served in the Navy for five years, including 18 months at sea during war time in the Persian Gulf. As a Navy rescue swimmer, he risked his life to protect and save others.
He came home unhurt. But after returning from war, Davis was seriously injured during a car drive home from southern California.
I was on I-5 near Modesto and I got into a car accident, he said. My seatbelt broke and I went out the window. I woke up about a month later.
That was in 2007 and doctors told him he wouldn t walk again.
He beat the odds, and is walking. But it has been a long, painful journey.
Davis can move much faster on the water. Vancouver Lake is where he trains to be a world class adaptive rower.
You see horrible things, you go through horrible stuff, and then you come here and look at this, Davis said, gesturing to the lake. You get to spend your day rowing on that and it s breathtaking and it s amazing to me.
Some of the people who ve helped Davis excel at his water sport want other veterans - disabled, emotionally troubled or just bored - to try rowing as a way to enjoy life, too.
It s one of those things we want to reach out to those folks and give them an opportunity because I know how much he enjoys being on the water and there s a lot more like him out there, said Alan Stewart of Vancouver Lake Crew.
Davis also hopes other veterans will join him on the lake. It s all about the will. You don t need arms and you don t need legs, it s all about the spirit. You can get in a boat and do anything you want to do on the water, he said.
A group of rowing and dragon boat event organizers are planning a day on the water for veterans. Called the Spring Water Sports Demo for Disabled Veterans. It's scheduled for Sunday, April 28th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.