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    Roever speaks to Joint Base Balad on resilience

    Roever speaks to Joint Base Balad on resilience

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Zane Craig | Dave Roever, who was severely burned by a grenade in Vietnam, gave a motivational...... read more read more

    JOINT BASE BALAD, IRAQ

    02.06.2011

    Story by Spc. Zane Craig 

    103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)

    JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq— “I am a happy man. If wealth is measured in happiness, I’m the richest man in the world,” said Dave Roever, a Vietnam veteran who sustained burns over half his body and severe disfigurement when a sniper shot a grenade he was holding during an operation in 1969.

    Roever spoke to dozens of service members and civilians Feb. 2 at Provider Chapel, Joint Base Balad, Iraq, using his life as an example of a human’s ability to recover physically and mentally from a catastrophic injury.

    Roever inspired the audience by explaining how he received his injuries, recovered, and went on to make it his life’s mission to help others who endured serious injuries fighting for our country.

    “When you get hurt, how are you going to deal with it?” he asked, referring to either physical or mental injury. “Your response to that question will determine your success in life.”

    Roever began by saying that he did not seek out glory in battle. He joined the Navy to avoid being drafted into the Army where he perceived the greater danger lie. While he was not an anti-war protester, he was in college studying for the ministry and felt no desire to fight in a war.

    Serving as a riverboat gunner on the elite Black Water Brown Beret in Vietnam in 1969, Roever lifted a white phosphorous grenade just as a Viet Cong sniper had him in his sights. The sniper shot the grenade, which exploded in Roever’s hand, coating half his body in super-heated white phosphorous.

    Roever spent 14 months recovering in hospitals in Vietnam and Japan before being able to return to his teenage wife in the U.S. His injuries were so severe, his family received notification of his death.

    A newlywed when he went to Vietnam, Roever promised his wife that he would return without a scar.

    “That was the only promise I made to her I didn’t keep and she forgave me,” he said.

    “Forty three years later, we’re still married,” he added, his voice dropping to a whisper.

    Roever’s speech alternated between outpourings of sentimentality and anecdotes from his religious ministry to service members in which he witnessed gruesome injuries and deaths.

    “I’m going to get emotional, and don’t you dare judge me,” he said.

    “I will never apologize for my tears,” he said.

    He added that bottling up his emotions during Vietnam and not allowing himself to cry when he felt the need made him angry and ultimately more vulnerable.

    Roever reminded the audience that the Army considers spiritual fitness to be one of the five pillars of resiliency, and for him, the foundation of all the others. Ministry is an important part of his mission and is a clear influence even in his revival\of speaking.

    After returning to the U.S., Roever met Air Force General Robbie Reisner, who spent seven years as a “guest” at the Hanoi Hilton with John McCain, who became a friend and mentor.

    “Young man, when you’ve suffered for America, don’t you love her so much more?” asked Reisner when he met Roever for the first time. This deep love of our nation permeates every part of his speech.

    “With the injuries I received, I kind of feel like I gave one life,” he said.

    Those injuries are indeed extensive and described in graphic detail during the speech. His hair, right ear and much of his face is reconstructed and the ear is actually removable, leading to comedic situations such as his ability to literally play the piano by ear.

    Despite, or perhaps because of, the great sacrifices he made to defend our freedom, Roever greatly appreciates the efforts and sacrifices of service members here at JBB.

    “Last night my grandbaby slept all night without fear because she knew she was safe because you are making the difference,” he told the audience.

    After the hour-long speech, Roever met individually with anyone who wanted the opportunity in the Chapel Annex.

    “I saw him 25 years ago when he came to speak at my Junior High,” said Staff Sgt. Troy Graeve, a mortarman with the 1st platoon, 21st Infantry Battalion, 2nd Advanced Assistance Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, and a Tucson, Ariz., native.

    “He was my inspiration to join the Army. His speech just warms my heart. It’s such an inspiration to see him again, kind of makes [it] a full circle,” he said.

    Roever has inspired millions of people with his motivational speeches and ministries. He continues to help wounded veterans achieve great things through his two nonprofit organizations, Roever Educational Assistance Program, and Eagle’s Summit Ranch.

    With all his achievements, powerful friends, and the generation of Americans he has inspired, Roever remains humble:

    “Anything I do in my life can’t be attributed to me, but to God.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 02.06.2011
    Date Posted: 02.06.2011 17:53
    Story ID: 64905
    Location: JOINT BASE BALAD, IQ 

    Web Views: 218
    Downloads: 0

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