NAPLES, Fla. — Those who served our country are being celebrated in a special event Friday.
More specifically, those who were injured while fighting in war zones. Avow Veterans Committee will honor Purple Heart veterans with a special ceremony later this morning.
One of those being honored is Dave Hinds.
"This landed in my buttocks," says Hinds, while holding up a piece of shrapnel. "Me and Forrest Gump- we’ve got something in common.”
A three-time Purple Heart recipient and Vietnam vet.
"My first injury was March 24, 1967," he recounts. “I was wounded a second time June 5, 1967 and then two weeks later I was wounded a third time.”
Yup— you heard that right. He’s been awarded the Purple Heart award not once, not twice, but three times!
"The process is if you were wounded three times and you survived, the government had to get you out of the country.”
Hinds was hit twice with shrapnel during his time in Vietnam. The third injury came when he was leading a squad and was hit by a sniper.
“I raised my arm up to stop everybody because I just had this feeling maybe we ought to find another route instead of going through this open field," he says. "The shot went off and I got shot in the arm.”
In his spare time, you can find Hinds at America’s Military and First Responders Museum where he’s the president.
“He is a very active community veteran," says Annalise Smith, Chief Philanthropy Officer at Avow. "He’s helped us to meet other community veterans in order to bring them into our programs and services.”
It’s his active participation across the community that’s led him to meet others like him helping veterans.
"We’ve really met a lot of wonderful, wonderful friends and Dave Hinds is definitely one of them,” says Smith.
Hinds will be one of a few hundred Purple Heart veterans being honored at Friday’s ceremony.
"This is a great opportunity for us to show them that they are appreciated and that they are celebrated," said Smith. "It’s amazing how they do start to open up and share stories about what they experienced and really enjoy and appreciate being recognized for the things they have done.”
And when he’s not reminiscing about wartime, Hinds is just thankful for the life he’s lived. Something so few in his shoes were able to fulfill…
“I consider myself very lucky," he says. "After I got out of the Marine Corps I went to the fire department, and then I was a deputy sheriff for 11 years, and the last job I took I was a driving instructor for teenagers and adults. That was probably the most dangerous job of everything I had. If you can believe that!”
Avow’s ceremony will take place at 11:30 Friday morning. It will be held in the Waterview room of their Community Center in Naples.