Earlier this month, Macomb Township Marine veteran Richard Silva received a new vehicle. In August 2004 in Iraq, Silva was wounded by shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade and mortars. He continues his service today by transporting fellow veterans to appointments.

Earlier this month, Macomb Township Marine veteran Richard Silva received a new vehicle. In August 2004 in Iraq, Silva was wounded by shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade and mortars. He continues his service today by transporting fellow veterans to appointments.

Photo provided by Betsy O’Connell


Local veteran continues service

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published November 23, 2021

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — After sustaining injuries from a rocket-propelled grenade, Richard Silva could have put his service behind.

Instead, he continues his service to his country by driving fellow veterans to appointments.

On Nov. 5, Silva, of Macomb Township, received a 2021 Ford Escape Titanium at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, thanks to Citizens Bank and the Military Warriors Support Foundation.

A nonprofit foundation, Military Warriors Support Foundation was established in 2007 and seeks to provide programs that facilitate a smooth and successful transition for combat-wounded veterans and Gold Star families.

Silva, 49, is a retired U.S. Marine Corps corporal and a combat wounded veteran. He was in the Marines from 2000 to 2008.

“I was familiar with the foundation before and was awarded a home in San Diego about eight years ago,” he said. “I heard about them having a possible vehicle in the Michigan area.”  

Since he moved to Michigan last year, Silva has driven fellow veterans to the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System for appointments. That meant leaving his family without a vehicle for most of the day. The second car will help Silva assist veterans and allow his family to get around at the same time.

“You get to talk with other veterans who have a similar story that you have and the same struggles and it’s always good bonding time,” he said. “I try to be there for anyone who needs a ride and that’s a blessing.”

In August 2004 as a sniper and part of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, Silva led a four-man team in Fallujah, Iraq. He was wounded by shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade, or RPG, and mortars.

“I was on a tactical checkpoint and we had lost two Marines prior to that date,” he said. “Morale was low and we started receiving small-arms fire.”

Silva shared that himself and a fellow Marine were trying to gauge where the enemy was when mortar shells started coming down.

“That was pretty usual at the time where they would drop one or two,” he said. “This day it was like four to five and it felt like they had a spotter.”

At that point, Silva thought to evacuate the checkpoint to a safer area.

“Unfortunately, it was an open field to where our vehicle was, about 40 yards away,” he said. “I was radioing in for a quick reaction force to come out to help us out. As we were evacuating the checkpoint, mortars were landing left and right of us and we’re running to the vehicle.”

The enemy was firing RPGs and a few mortars fell close to Silva.

“The ground is shaking so as you’re trying to take one step, you’re not really taking a step, it’s swaying like on a boat,” he said. “I remember feeling hot and wetness on my right leg. I had taken shrapnel. It seemed like about four more mortars hit us and the last one, you could hear the whistle coming, it blew in between myself and the other Marine.”

Silva was spun around, somersaulted and landed face down without putting his hands down to ease the blow.

The blast resulted in Silva having a spinal fracture, rotator cuff injuries, and shrapnel in the right side of his leg and abdomen. The other Marine ended up dying from his injuries.  

Silva’s injuries led to him needing knee replacement surgery, learning how to walk and talk again. Silva regularly goes to the VA for physical therapy and other appointments related to his injuries.

John Hill, media manager at Military Warriors Support Foundation, said in 2017, the foundation began its transportation for heroes program.

“It was designed to provide safe and reliable transportation to our combat-wounded veterans and Gold Star families,” Hill said. “That was another way we could serve them.”

Remembering how much he missed family when stationed away from home during the holidays, Silva wants to use the second car to pick up fellow veterans and bring them to his home to share a family meal this holiday season.

His service commendations include the Purple Heart, Combat Action Badge, the Presidential Unit Citation and the Naval Unit Citation.

Silva is married to his wife Carmen and they have four children.

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