Writer, Teacher, Artist, Veteran, Community Organizer
Sean Davis is the author of The Wax Bullet War, a Purple Heart Iraq War veteran, and the winner of the Legionnaire of the Year Award from the American Legion in 2015 and the recipient of the Emily Gottfried Emerging Leader, Human Rights award for 2016. His stories, essays, and articles have appeared in the the Ted Talk Book The Misfit’s Manifesto (Simon and Schuster), Forest Avenue Press anthology City of Weird, Sixty Minutes, Story Corps, Flaunt Magazine, The Big Smoke, Human the movie, and much more.
Sean was born in the Presidio Army Base in 1973, his father was a nineteen year old private, and his mother was seventeen. The military took the small family to Germany where they lived for two years. Sean’s dad was given a bad conduct discharge and they left the military life to live in San Francisco where Sean’s maternal grandfather got his dad a job at the U.S. Mint. In only a few months, his father was fired for stealing money. The couple had two more children before splitting up. Sean’s dad wasn’t heard from again for years, other than the occasional Christmas or Birthday card.
Being a single mother of three young boys and not having a high school diploma proved a very difficult existence for Sean’s mother. She worked three jobs and the boys stayed with babysitters and their maternal grandparents much of the time. Eventually, even this became too much for them, so Sean and his middle brother were sent in 1979 to live with their paternal grandparents in McKenzie River, Oregon.
Another year goes by before the youngest brother is also sent to Oregon uniting the three brothers. This is where they grew upo living a very rural life, taking care of goats, dogs, cats, ducks, chickens, and even a cow named Henry.
Eventually, raising three boys heading into puberty became too difficult for a retired couple, so the grandparents called Sean’s dad to come back. When he did return, he took the boys out of school and went to pan for gold for the rest of their lives.
The rest of their lives lasted four months. Their dad had found some illegal marijuana growers off the Sixes River where they panned for gold and he slept with at least one of their girlfriends. Sean’s dad was buckshot in the ass with a shotgun and he and the boys made a hasty exit.
They moved back to McKenzie where Sean’s Dad was given a job logging by his brother. They stayed in McKenzie until 1989 when the timber industry left. Chasing what logging jobs he could find, Sean’s dad moved the family to Sweet Home.
Because of his abusive alcoholic father, Sean moved back to California with his mother where he lived in Newark for two years, but his mother had remarried and had another boy. That husband was abusive as well, and he left. Sean watched his infant brother as his mother continued to work three jobs, many times missing weeks of school.
Finally, at age 17, Sean moved back to Oregon and lived on his own in a Mother-in-Law cottage in the back of some nice couple’s house. He finished high school and because he felt he had no other choice, he joined the US Army.
He married and had two children. At the end of his six year military career, he left his last duty station in Germany as a non commissioned officer. He also left divorced. His ex-wife left him for a German National and kept his children in the Bavarian Countryside.
Sean moved to Portland and went to the Art Institute where he dove deep into the counterculture of Portland, Oregon. He had many art openings at night, wrote for different magazines and papers, and worked as an armored car driver in the day.
When he found out that his ex-wife had moved back with his kids, he left the art scene, and did what he could to repair his marriage. He remarried his ex-wife and started working as an incident responder for the Oregon Department of Transportation where he responded to fatal traffic accidents and cleaned up roadkill. While the marriage was a bad fit, he did get to be with his children.
Sean reenlisted in the military the day after September 11th, 2001. In 2003 he was sent to train as an infantry squad leader in Ft. Hood, Texas, before being sent to fight in the Iraq War.
In Iraq, Sean and his company were chosen to be one of the units who were used as the Quick Reaction Force for the Green Zone. They were fast rope trained and stationed in Taji. At this point in 2004, Taji was mortared every day and didn’t have any other infantry units. There was also a bridge over the Euphrates that was a part of the Main Supply Route for bases north of their position. Their one company was tasked with all air assault QRF missions into Baghdad, finding the mortar teams around Taji, and guarding the MSR bridge. In the first 30 days they had over 36 combat missions.
On June 13th, 2004, Sean was critically injured in a violent ambush that left half his body broken. He was sent home, and in this time he suffered from severe PTSD. When he healed from his wounds and his battalion returned from Iraq, they deployed to New Orleans to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina where Sean acted as a platoon leader due to a lack of officers.
After returning from Katrina, Sean left the military as a E-7 Platoon Sergeant. He divorced his wife again and lived in Portland. He suffered from PTSD, but art and writing pulled him out of it. He decided that he would use his VA Benefits and get his life together. Within five years of making that decision, Sean had his Associates, his Bachelor’s, and his Master’s Degree.
Sean’s taught writing at Portland State University, Clackamas Community College, Mt. Hood Community College, the University of Massachusetts: Boston, and many other organizations and writing festivals. In that time he published his essays, articles, stories, and books.
While living in Portland, Sean married Kelly Davis and they had Jackie Juniper Davis. His kids from the previous marriage lived with them as well.
Sean became the post commander for the American Legion Post 134. He turned that post into a cultural phenomenon, and on one particular cruel winter he and his community turned the post into a homeless shelter that saved lives. All the while, he volunteered to help find jobs and homes for other veterans with PTSD. Sean started monthly writing groups with the help of the Oregon Humanities and other groups. They opened up a food pantry for those in needs and did countless coat drives and other fundraising activities.
For the work he did in that time, Sean received the Helping Men Heal Gold Medal Award, the American Legionnaire of the Year, and the Emily Gottfried Human Rights Award from the City of Portland. Sean was also KATU’s Hometown Hero a number of times as well as one of the “Newsmakers of the Year.” Sean was knighted by the Royal Rosarians.
In 2017, Sean and his family moved back to McKenzie Bridge, Oregon, and started their company the Juniper Pine Project. Today he writes grants for organizations in his community, lobbies for important issues such as ending the Authorization for the Use of Military Force and the Oregon Wildlands, and shoots the occasional documentary. He also volunteers on rural boards, and teaches an art and writing class for children in the area. He spends his off time writing, drawing, painting, and upkeeping his land with Kelly, Jackie, Cora, and his two giant dogs Luna and Bombur.