I have long felt that our Vietnam veterans were not treated properly by society. And when I read of heroes like Dave Roever, I am reminded of the debt this country owes men like this:
As a riverboat gunner in the Brown Water/Black Beret in 1969, Roever was burned beyond recognition when a phosphorous grenade exploded in his hand. He was set to throw the grenade at the enemy, but was shot by a sniper after pulling the pin.
“In one second, my life was changed forever,” Roever said. “It only takes one moment to change your life.”
Roever described to students the intense pain he endured while attempting to get to safety.
“I don’t want to make you sick, I just want you to get the idea of an unlikely survival,” Roever said as he explained to students how he could hear his skin sizzling as it burned in the water. “To be able to speak to you today is beyond comprehension.”
Roever was sent to a hospital in Japan before returning to the United States, where he spent 14 months in the hospital.
In Japan, he asked for a mirror to look at the damage and at that moment, he felt his life was over, he told students.
“One side of my head was skull and the other side was so swollen,” Roever said. “I knew my teenage wife would never love me and I knew it was over.”
Read the rest. Life was certainly not over for Dave or his wife. It was just starting.
I have no way of measuring this, but Vietnam veterans are surely the most under-appreciated group of living vets. If we can have a Secretaries Day, why not a Vietnam Veterans Day? I am not one for new holidays, but this seems appropriate. One way to right a wrong that has festered for too long in this country. . .