Dave Roever shares his story of Resiliency with Team Kingsley

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

On August 28, Dave Roever, a Vietnam War survivor and motivational speaker on resiliency, shared his story with Team Kingsley Airmen. 

With the 173rd Fighter Wing Commander’s priority of building Airmen’s total fitness, this event was a natural fit and fell under the Comprehensive Airman Fitness spiritual pillar. 

“Whatever it is you believe in, let that be the core of your values,” said Roever. “And you can fall back on something you believe and are willing to invest your life in.”

Roever’s story is one of resiliency beyond what most can imagine.

Roever enlisted into the Navy during the Vietnam War and served as river boat gunner in the elite Brown Water Black Beret. Eight months into his first tour, Roever suffered gruesome injuries when a phosphorous grenade detonated in his hand.

Fifty-nine surgeries and countless hours of rehabilitation later he still bears the disfigurement of that moment.

But rather than find himself destroyed by that tragic accident, Roever demonstrated a capacity that the Air Force is trying to instill in each and every Airman today—in a word resiliency.

Since he recovered enough from his injuries he has traveled across the country sharing his story of triumph despite tragedy and pain.

“Dave Roever's story of resiliency was very inspirational,” said Capt. Elizabeth Narramore, 173rd Fighter Wing executive officer.  “He has gone through so much, yet he has committed his life to helping other Veterans, and making life worth living for his wife and family.”

With humor and storytelling, Roever’s shared a pointed message to the Airmen in the room.

“Make sure when it hurts the most, you give your best,” said Roever. “Never give up!”

Roever has been sharing his story across the country for decades. For some Airmen in the audience, this was not the first time they had heard him speak. Tech. Sgt. Dave Menken who drove Roever from the Medford airport the night before the event, first heard Roever speak at youth camp when he was a child. Menken says spending time and hearing him speak again was, “An experience I’ll always cherish.”

This is not the first time Roever visited Kingsley Field, and he found a unique connection here back in 1989 when he told his story at an Independence Day celebration. Following his speaking engagement, one Steve Harper, who would later become the base commander, and his wife Sherry approached him. During their conversation, Roever learned that Sherry Harper was one of his nurses during his first stay at Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where she helped him through his recovery. She came to see Roever again 30 years later.

“I cannot say that I have had a more meaningful day, then to sit today with my favorite nurse of all my life,” said Roever.  “Mrs. Harper, thank you.”

Roever concluded his presentation saying, “The things you go through shape you, mold you, make you stronger. That’s why you cannot quit, you must not quit. You must forever stand for what you know is right.”

Chief Master Sgt. Roxanne Wilson, 173rd Logistics Readiness Squadron transportation chief, says she hopes people who hear his story take away a “message of hope in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.”

A recording of Roever’s presentation is available to watch online at: