By Sgt. Robert Yde; 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsDecember 3, 2007
FORWARD OPERATING BASE PROSPERITY, Iraq - After being severely burned by a phosphorous hand grenade while serving as a river boat gunner in the Navy's Brown Water Black Berets during the Vietnam War, Dave Roever thought that his life, as he knew it, was over.
His biggest fear was that when his young wife saw the damage to his body, she would leave him, and this fear drove him to attempt suicide while in the hospital recovering from his injuries.
His suicide attempt was unsuccessful, and soon after he was reunited with his wife, who walked up to his hospital bed at Brooke Army Medical Center and greeted him with a kiss and leaned down and said to him, "I just want you to know that I love you. Welcome home, Davie."
At that moment, Roever knew his life was still worth living and after undergoing numerous major surgeries over the next 14 months, he defied his doctors' prognosis that he would not survive his injuries and walked out of BAMC with the intention of sharing his faith and inspirational story to the world.
For nearly 40 years, Roever has traveled through the United States and the world delivering his message of hope. His most recent travels have brought him to Iraq, addressing service members deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Roever spoke to the Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division during a prayer luncheon held here, Nov. 27.
"It's just amazing to hear his survivor's story and to hear his sincerity and how he's able to joke around," said Spc. Charles Mazzarella, a mental health specialist with the brigade. "He's got a true message for us not to give up on ourselves and not consider negative views - to just persevere. I think he's an example of perseverance and he wants to enlighten us. He's a true, genuine person and it's nice to meet people like that."
Mazzarella, a native of Wyoming, Pa., added that he has been a fan of Roever for many years, having watched him speak on the Trinity Broadcasting Network
"I was impressed with his sincerity then, and that's what drew me in," he said. "When I saw his picture on the flyers, I just wanted to be here."
Roever's speech was mixed with humor, much of it self-depreciating, as he shared several experiences in his life and repeatedly expressed his appreciation to all those who are serving in the military.
"You're the best answer to terrorism on the face of this earth," Roever said. "You're a gift to freedom that we all cherish deeply."
Joining Roever on his tour of Iraq was Betsy Brown, the founder of Heartsong Ministries, Inc., a Texas-based non-profit organization.
Brown spoke briefly to the Soldiers before singing her song "Thank You For Being Faithful," which she wrote for servicemembers who are deployed and then led the crowd in a rendition of "God Bless America."
"I've got friends who are so jealous that I get to be over here and be a voice for America and say, 'You're not forgotten. That people love you and pray for you,'" she told the Soldiers before yielding the podium to Roever.
Roever encouraged the Soldiers not to discount their own individual roles in the fight against terrorism, and praised them for their willingness to stand for something.
"I really enjoyed his message," said Sgt. Jerry Smalls, a lab technician with the 15th Brigade Support Battalion from Camden, S.C. "He's gone through so much and it just has a lot of impact."
Anyone who doubts the amount of hardships Roever has faced during his life need only look at the scars that cover his face, but according to him, it's these scars that sum up his message of hope and never giving up so perfectly.
"My scars tell you I got hurt," Roever said, "but my scars also tell you I got over it. If I didn't have a scar, I'd have a wound, but I don't - I'm healed."