After NATO summit, Carmel grad visits old haunts in Mundelein
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Scott Davis shakes hands with former teacher and coaches athletic director Andy Bitto (left) and Mike Fitzgibbons at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein. Davis grew up in Libertyville and is a 1991 graduate of the high school. He was in the area attending the NATO Summit in Chicago. Thomas Delany Jr.~ Sun-Times Media
ARMY LT. COL SCOTT DAVIS
GRADUATED FROM CARMEL: 1991
DEPLOYMENTS TO IRAQ: 4
QUOTE: “We went all over the place and we were subject to a number of attacks.”
Updated: July 3, 2012 9:40AM
It is quite a long road Army Lt. Col. Scott Davis has taken from Libertyville and Carmel Catholic High School.
It wound through Iraq, to Brussels, Belgium, Chicago and the NATO Summit, and back to Carmel in Mundelein again.
“I can’t believe I’m here. It’s changed so much,” Davis said May 23 at the main entrance to the Mundelein school when he met his former teacher, Michelle Bertaud, to give him a little tour of his old high school haunts.
The visit was arranged after Bertaud noticed some signs in the yard of Davis’ sister, Lisa Godfrey, at Second Street and Sunnyside Avenue in Libertyville that read “Lt. Col. Scott Davis. Thank you for your service. Good luck at NATO Summit.”
Bertaud went to the front door and asked Lisa if that was the Scott Davis who went to Carmel and when his sister said yes, Bertaud offered to take him around during her free period. “It was so neat,” said Godfrey.
“I am so proud of my brother,” she said, who remembers he liked to play army when they were growing up in Libertyvile with her parents, Tom and Betty Davis, and their other sister, Lauren.
But Davis said he grew out of that and when he was at Carmel (Class of 1991) being in the military was not on his mind.
‘Opinion had changed’
“By the time I got into high school, my opinion had changed and I wanted to be a diplomat,” said Davis, who has been awarded two Bronze Star medals. “I went to Indiana University (Bloomington, Ind.) and majored in political science,” he said, adding that he also studied Spanish for four years.
It wasn’t until his sophomore year that he decided to join the ROTC on campus and then the Indiana National Guard and Guard Reserves. “I didn’t tell my parents,” he said with a smile.
From there he went on to serve on a year-by-year basis until he entered the Army’s Advanced Civil School to study international studies. He then went to the University of South Carolina to focus on Arabic and Islamic studies.
His first deployment (he went four times) was to Iraq where he and 50 Iraqi soldiers were given the task of repairing oil pipelines during the Iraq War. Sometimes insurgents blew up a line just to attack those who came to fix it.
“We went all over the place and we were subject to a number of attacks,” he said. His second tour he headed up the newly reformed 1st Iraq Tank Battalion. There were eight American advisers and 300 Iraqis.
“We took them from nothing to full combat in the cities,” he said. They were assigned to Anbar Province, the largest province in Iraq, and the city of Ramadi, the capital of the province.
“They are truly incredible people,” he said of the Iraqis. “It was an absolute honor to serve side by side with them.”
Back at Carmel on May 23, a couple of times while looking for former teachers, he would recognize where his locker was located. A far cry from the NATO Summit last week in Chicago where he was the military assistant to the deputy chairman of the NATO Military Committee. He is based in Brussels. “It’s not like I’m sitting at the table,” he said, downplaying his role.
At one point, he looked out at the Carmel courtyard and he was asked what one of his favorite memories was from high school. The track and cross-county runner quickly said without hesitation, Carios.
“It means God’s time, it was a religious retreat students go on,” he said.
“We’re still doing that,” said Bertaud.
Davis met with Bob Kuykendall of Waukegan who is an English teacher. “I remember you,” said the teacher. “This is a real great man,” Davis told Kuykendall’s students.
When Davis saw Jerry Rejc of Grayslake, a math and calculus teacher, he said, “I can’t believe I’m looking at you.” He told the class to enjoy Rejc. Next, Davis saw coaches Michael Fitzgibbons and Andy Bitto.
“I always have these guys pray for those who protect us every morning,” said Fitzgibbons as he gestured to his class. “God bless you and the work you do,” he said. Davis told the class to “please listen to everything this man says.”
“The school looks very nice,” said Davis. “I’m really, really impressed with it. I’m so happy to see all the teachers.”