A heartfelt homecoming

A wounded Army veteran gets the red carpet treatment from the Newport Beach American Legion post.

September 10, 2010|By Joseph Serna,
  • Army SPC David Mayer, with his parents, Glen and Marge, speaks to the audience at American Legion Post 291 on Wednesday. Mayer lost part of both his legs during an attack in Iraq in 2008.
Army SPC David Mayer, with his parents, Glen and Marge,… (KENT TREPTOW, Daily…)

NEWPORT BEACH — Three years ago, Glen Mayer was sitting behind an American Legion booth at a fair in Palo Cedro, near Redding, when Bill Dunn happened upon the unexpected welcome mat.

Dunn, the 1st vice commander of American Legion Post No. 291 in Newport Beach, struck up a conversation.

The fellow veterans exchanged small talk. Mayer mentioned that his son, David, was serving a second tour in Iraq. Dunn said he'd keep the young Army specialist in his prayers.

The men met again at an American Legion convention in Bakersfield earlier this year.

"How's your son doing?" Dunn asked.

"Guess you haven't heard yet," Mayer said.

The news was grim.

In March 2008, Spc. David Mayer was part of a convoy en route to Baghdad when his vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device designed to penetrate thick armor.

The molten copper and fragments ripped at his legs, and those of two of fellow soldiers. All three lost both legs and are now double-amputees. A fourth soldier suffered a broken leg.


David Mayer spent two years recovering from his injuries at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He said the hospital's care, plus talking about his injuries and future with other wounded vets, kept his spirits up.

"In order to cheer someone up, you have to be cheerful," he said.

When word came the wounded serviceman would be heading home to Southern California until he found his own place, Dunn wanted to roll out the red carpet for the 32-year-old veteran.

While the Newport Beach chapter made preparations to have its honor guard meet Mayer at the airport, Mayer had other plans. He chose to drive from Walter Reed to his mom's house in Fullerton in a car specially designed for his disability.

On Wednesday night, the Newport Beach chapter of the American Legion finally got to welcome Mayer, honoring him at its meeting with full honor guard, thunderous applause and countless thank yous from servicemen and servicewomen.

Some veterans, like Marine Fred Arnold, choked up with emotion talking about Mayer's sacrifices.

"The general public needs to be aware of these military heroes living among us," Arnold said.

"It is our duty to provide support for them … we cannot turn our back on them."

In that vein, Mayer points to a national program helping out amputee soldiers, Homes for our Troops, based in Taunton, Mass.

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles