Vietnam veteran Dave Roever joined local church in honoring those who have served this country in all branches of the military on Sunday. Wave Church in Virginia Beach, under the leadership of Steve and Sharon Kelly, leads Hampton Roads in honoring those who fight for our freedom on regular basis, not just holidays. This church reaches out to its vast military community by offering counseling for military families, sends resources to deployed military personnel, provides military cell groups, holds two services each year dedicated to honoring the military along with a host of hospitality events and so much more.
Memorial Day often gets confused with Veterans Day; however Memorial Day is really set apart to honor and remember military personnel who have died while serving their country. It is especially dedicated to those who died either in battle or as a result of wounds they received in battle. Although the celebration highlights those that have died this particular Church always includes those that are active, retired or have served in any capacity.
This year Dave Roever shared his transforming story of grace which embodies remarkable courage, survival and strength. Dave is a gifted and passionate speaker who travels extensively across an international platform encouraging those who continue the fight of survival for this great country.
He is a frequent guest on television talk shows, in military installations, public schools, churches and businesses. Dave shares deeply serious information with a heartwarming comedic style. He has mastered the art of bringing laughter to his own painful story and is not afraid to crack a joke at his own expense.
Dave had never imaged going to war but was drafted to serve in Vietnam. He joined the Navy and was a river boat gunner in the elite Brown Water Black Beret. While serving on the boat in Vietnam this soldier was hit with tragedy.
In the middle of a fight with the enemy Dave picked up a white phosphorus hand grenade to throw at the opposing forces. Before he could release the grenade a sniper’s bullet struck it causing the grenade to explode prematurely, while still in Dave’s possession. This explosion caused more than half of this soldier’s body to catch fire and burn at a 5,000 degree temperature.
Once Dave realized what happened he immediately jumped into the water; phosphorus fire is not affected by water so his skin continued burning. The effects of the explosion and the intense heat were devastating and nearly disemboweled his insides.
The grenade had literally blown apart his chest and left a gaping cavity. He could literally see his heart beating through a hole. His right hand, left arm and his head were on fire. His scalp, ears, nose, lips and eyelids were singed. Dave was left blind in his right eye, deaf in his right ear and the entire right side of his head had burned down to the skull. The right side of his face was blown back so far his tongue almost fell out of his mouth.
The medics loaded Dave on the helicopter presuming he was dead. When he was first put on the stretcher he burned through it, fell and hit the ground. Although many people feared the worst, Dave never did. This soldier never gave up hope in his purpose nor did his faith in God waiver.
As Dave began to heal he realized God’s purpose for him had crystallized and he had a message to share with the rest of the world, “It does not matter how bad things seem, never ever give up.” Dave felt empowered with the support of his wife, family and his God.
Despite his devastating injuries, in excess of fourteen months in the hospital and countless surgeries to repair and replace his burnt skin, Dave made it. When many others would have been consumed by bitterness and anger this Vietnam veteran said he found gratitude in just being alive. He pledged from that day forward he would help other wounded veterans for the rest of his days. His testimony of survival and life are nothing short of miraculous. Dave’s response to his experience is, “Everybody has scars, mine just happen to be on the outside.”
What an honor for Wave Church to host such a gracious speaker with an amazing story of victory, passion, faith and freedom. Dave Roever said he was equally honored to join Pastors Steve and Sharon Kelly as they have proven to continuously support a cause so dear to his heart and mission in life.
Wave Church is known for its support of military personnel, not just in Hampton Roads but across this great country. True to their style, after the special service the church held a “Memorial Day” themed reception complete with all the great food one would expect. Steve and Sharon constantly reiterate how important the military is to our safety and survival. These men and women of service sacrifice their lives every day in order for these United States of America to enjoy the freedom that is far too often taken for granted.
Opinion by: Cherese Jackson (Virginia Beach)