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November 17, 2012

A Few Good Men: Wedding, Afghanistan deployment next for third generation Marine

NEW CASTLE — Raised by a Marine who was raised by a Marine, Asa James Davies always knew the path he would take.

“My father never said it, but I think he was surprised,” said Asa, who enlisted in the Marines in 2010 following graduation from Neshannock High School. “But I know he was proud.”

Asa, 20, is scheduled to depart for a seven-month tour in Afghanistan in January.

But first he will marry his high school sweetheart, Cassandra “Cassie” Brown, today at Good Shepherd Luthern Church. She is a Neshannock grad who is studying dental hygiene at Slippery Rock University.

They began dating before their senior year and decided to marry before Asa’s deployment.

He will still have two years remaining to be served stateside when he returns from Afghanistan in the summer. The couple will wait until then to have a wedding reception.

“I’d been thinking about it for a long time,” said Asa, who dreamed of playing college football, perhaps at a military school.

But when that didn’t pan out, Asa did what he does best — improvise and adapt.

Asa followed the footsteps of his father once before. James Jr. was also a 5-7, 150-pound defensive back on the 1975 Neshannock football team. He was the team MVP.

James Jr. credits his mother, Cora, with giving him a Christian example to follow and that has also been passed on to Asa.

At 5-6 and 150-pounds, Asa was a hard-nosed running back and defensive back for the 2009 Lancers. But his senior season ended in the second game when his leg was broken.

Asa grew up in a household where Scripture was read and military discipline dispensed daily.

“Disrespect was not tolerated,” Asa said. “I was taught to do things the correct way.”

His father, James L. Davies Jr., who served from 1976 to 1982, was simply passing on what he had learned from his father, James L. Davies Sr., a sergeant in the Marines during the Korean War.

James L. Davies Sr. lives in Union Township. Since an accident caused a head injury in 1978, he has had a difficult time communicating.

Junior admired his father and what he stood for.

“His outlook on life was do to things do the way they are supposed to be done, and he held you to it,” said Junior. “He gave me that mentality.”

Senior was oldest of 11 children and was often responsible for watching his siblings.

“He wanted something better for his life and it (Marines) gave him the best opportunity,” Junior said.

Asa admits there were moments of rebellion, but never enough to turn his back on the military way of thinking.

But Asa is the only one of five Davies children to choose a military life. Junior and Patti were married 32 years ago. Seth and Amanda arrived soon after.

A decade later, Asa was a surprise addition.

“My parents were having a difficult time, and mom told me that I helped heal their relationship.”

His name comes from an Old Testament king, who Asa said was a good king and a servant of God.

“It means healer,” he said.

While most of his high school friends were doing what they wanted when they wanted, Asa stayed on the track he believed was right.

“I always knew I was different,” he said.

His mother taught him to cook.

“She thought that would be valuable to my wife when I got married.”

The Davies familly grew by two more children. Matthew is a senior at Neshannock High School and a member of the Big Seven championship football team. He was sidelined recently by a concussion. Little sister Luana is a freshman.

Asa will leave next week for Camp LeJeune in North Carolina to resume pre-deployment training. Cassandra will join him there in December, but they plan to return to New Castle to celebrate Christmas with family and friends. Then it will be time to prepare for leaving.

“I do think about the danger (of being in Afghanistan),” he said. “But I plan to do my best.”

When Asa returns in July, he will serve out the remainder of his tour in North Carolina and Cassie plans to transfer to nearby Coastal Carolina to finish her degree. Asa said he will likely re-up and pursue a position in military intelligence.

Junior knows waiting for his son’s return will be tough for the family, but he also knows in whom he trusts.

“Man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

(Email: d_burcham@ncnewsonline.com)

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