Nightly News | April 22, 2011
>>> we're back, and as promised, time for an installment on the series of reports on the genuine american heroes that way too auchbl don't get the credit they deserve. the men and women a long way from home on the job in afghanistan. they're not getting much coverage, so jim maceda has chosen to spend time with some of them so we can check in on their lives and the fight. tonight, a father who is a father figure doing a tough job under even tougher circumstances far from home .
>> reporter: lieutenant colonel johnny davis , like others in the military, is up early. but unlike most battalion commanders, the 42-year-old starts his day with a twinkie, just one, and it goes a long way.
>> hey, how you doing? ready for another day? any problems?
>> negative, sir.
>> how you doing, superman?
>> how you doing, linebacker?
>> he prides himself on knowing each of his 800-plus men.
>> extremely compassionate guy. he cares a lot about the soldiers. he cares a lot about the mission.
>> reporter: the taliban ruled this part of the kandahar province when davis ' battalion reached their defenses last fall and pushed the taliban back.
>> we came in and cleared. now we're going to hold this ground.
>> reporter: but the unit has taken at least 140 casualties.
>> they're my heroes.
>> reporter: so davis built a gallery of heroes for some of the soldiers killed in action. he comes here often but still chokes up when he tells the story of private first class benjamin parks' final moments after he survived an initial ied blast.
>> and a team leader said to park, park, i need you to pull security. and he moved about ten meters, and he had a secondary ied.
>> reporter: how does this big-hearted commander cope with such loss?
>> is that you?
>> are we going to wrestle in the kitchen again?
>> we love you, daddy.
>> reporter: by phoning most nights his very large family back in clarksville, tennessee, the davises, code name "household six," for wife stacy and their five daughters from 19-year-old whitney now at west point down to 3-year-old rachel, the youngest and most challenging. the latest fire back home, the flip camera has gone mizing.
>> the mission today is a missing camera.
>> this loving father, a native of milwaukee, is also a war-hardened paratrooper who leads from the front. wounded himself, and he still carries shrapnel from an ied attack. five others were injured, two seriously.
>> jeffrey --
>> and no matter how late at night , davis finds the time to cheer up many of his own wounded soldiers in hospitals in the united states .
>> you'll start to get feelings in your hands and legs.
>> reporter: and then, but only if he's earned it, davis has the other twinkie.
>> simple pleasures.
>> reporter: before winding down until the next one. jim maceda , nbc news, kandahar.
>> life in the u.s. army thousands of miles from home. we've had a tremendous response to jim maceda 's reporting this week. because of that, he's live on the facebook page tonight, taking comments, answering questions from all of you about the people he met on the front lines in afghanistan.