Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea --
Dave Roever, a Vietnam War veteran, drove home the concept of having hope during a lunch and presentation presented by the 51st Fighter Wing chaplain office Jan. 25.
Roever is an inspirational speaker who travels the world to share his story of survival after suffering burns to most of his body when a phosphorus grenade exploded in his hand during the war—and how he overcame thoughts of suicide.
A U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class, Roever was a river-boat gunner in the Brown Water Black Beret assigned to patrol the inland waterways of Vietnam.
During a patrol, he received fire and was in the act of throwing a phosphorus grenade when a sniper shot the grenade, causing it to explode in his hand.
“When that grenade exploded everything that I had as my core values, everything that made me who I am, not just physically but the total compositive of Dave Roever was put to the test to live or die,” he said.
During the subsequent medevac by helicopter, Roever determined he wanted to live.
“I believe honestly that if I had said that ‘okay I quit’ that is it that--I would have died,” he said. “But deep down inside of my soul I reached for something I had never had to reach for.”
Roever did consider taking his life later after losing hope, thinking his wife would leave him after seeing his badly burnt face.
“I’ve been to the point when I lost hope--I looked in the mirror with my good eye and saw the monster looking back at me. I knew she would leave and I wasn’t prepared to live without her,” said Roever.
“When I looked into the glass they walked away with my hope and I tried to take my life. I’m ashamed of it.”
The changing moment that gave him hope to live was after seeing his wife for the first time in the hospital.
“She looked me in my good eye and she said I just want you to know I really love you--welcome home Davie,” he said.
Roever said the reason he decided to go on living was because his wife was strong at his side.
“I’m not here because I’m strong, I’m here because she is strong,” he said.
Roever receives requests to speak with military members about resiliency because he has hit rock bottom and bounced back.
“Don’t give suicide a second thought because that’s the one that will kill you,” he said.