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April 20, 2012

Roever spreads message of hope and healing

Dave Roever, war veteran and motivational speaker, has a story to tell and the scars to prove it.

Pastor Gary Rogers, of Grand Assembly of God in Chickasha, introduced Roever at the Chickasha High School Activity Center for his "Tragedy to Triumph" Rally on the evening of April 11.

Roever said he was a preacher's son as well as a Bible College student growing up in South Texas. He'd never fought a day in his life when he was drafted. Wanting to avoid serving in the infantry, he joined the Navy. Roever served as a river boat gunner in the Brown Water Black Beret in the Vietnam War.

On July 26, a sniper's bullet struck a phosphorous grenade that he was about to throw. Roever said that in an instant, his life changed forever. He was on fire, his face was on his boots and his left thumb was gone.

Even telling this story, Roever manages to find humor.

"Now I can't hitchhike in England."

He jumped in the water to try to stop the burning, and when he did, he sucked in fire. Roever said that as he exhaled a fireball, he upheld his faith, saying "God, I still believe in you." As a result, Roever said that one of the three young men he fought alongside became a Christian. "I won that war in Vietnam," Roever told the crowded activity center.

When Roever was picked up by a dustoff, they thought he was dead.

"I never heard a word to describe the feeling of half my skin blown off my body."

Roever said he was sent to Japan to die. In the hospital, he asked for a mirror, which he said was a mistake. All he could think about was his wife wouldn't love him anymore. He contemplated suicide.

His fears were not relieved when the patient next to him received a visitor. The patient had 3rd degree burns over 100% of his body. His visitor was the man's wife or fiance. She took off her ring and threw it on the bed.

Finally, Roever's wife came to see him and told him she still loved him.

"She kissed what was left of my face and said, 'Davey, you were never that good looking anyway.'"

Roever has been married to his wife for 45 years.

"Life's been hard for her. She married a handsome prince and ended up with a frog that almost croaked … get it?"

Roever said that his family has never been ashamed of him.

"I'm here today, happy and fulfilled."

As painful and traumatic as that event must have been. Roever says he does not regret what has happened to him.

"That day opened the door to an opportunity I never could have dreamed."

Roever made an audio recording of his story and sent it to the Pentagon. In response, they ordered 100,000 copies and asked Roever to personally hand them out to soldiers in Afghanistan.

Roever has founded Roever and Associates, the Roever Educational Assistance Program,  Eagles Summit Ranch, which is a place of physical and emotional recovery for soldiers.

Roever said that his foundation does not take government money or grants because he doesn't want any restriction on his method.

"I bled, I burned and I bought my freedom."

Roever has published several books, including: "Scarred," "War and Recovery: a Spiritual Journey," "Nobody's Ever Cried for Me" and a comic book, "The Dave Roever Story."

Roever has even designed a t-shirt that says, "No regrets. Live your life so that the preacher won't have to lie at your funeral. Timothy 4:7."

Once while attending the funeral of a soldier, Roever said that he knew in his heart that the soldier had had a friend he grew up with and did everything with, "his very best friend."  Roever said he prayed, "Please, God, please send someone to comfort his very best friend." After the long trip, on little sleep, Roever was at the airport on Thanksgiving morning waiting on a long flight delay during the wee hours of the morning. Roever had found a quiet corner in the airport where no one else was waiting.

At one point a soldier sat next to him. "Right up on me," Roever said. In his exhaustion, Roever was a little annoyed. Nonetheless, he and the soldier started talking. Roever learned that the soldier had just come from the same funeral that Roever was at. The soldier told him that he just came back from the funeral of his "very best friend."

"When he said that, my hair piece stood up."

Roever said he felt his prayers had been answered as he comforted the solider at the airport.

Roever wears a few prothesis, including an ear. He said that once while he was speaking in Jamaica, he discovered that his ear was resting on his shoulder.

Roever credits his mother, who was an invalid, for his ability to find the humor in his situation.

"'Never stop laughing, Davey boy,' she used to tell me," Roever remembered.

Earlier that day, Rove had visited Chickasha Middle School, whose students Roever said "showed 100 percent perfect behavior." Roever also spoke at Minco High School which he called, "one of the best high schools I've seen in my life. I could see they were doing their best and it made me want to do my best."

Roever also addresses his appearance to teenagers with humor.

"I have scars. You have pimples. We're even."

Roever spreads his message of resiliency in his speeches.

"Everybody gets hurt" … "When you do get hurt, how are you going to fix it?"

This message isn't reserved for young people. Roever reminded the crowd on Wednesday that kids barely out of high school fight for freedom.

"Next time you want to slap a kid, think of all the nineteen year old teenagers watching over us, protecting us."

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