A Life Dedicated to Helping Veterans Rooted in Surviving a Grenade Attack 50 Years Earlier

Last week, I celebrated the 50th anniversary of a hand grenade blowing up a few feet behind me. 

That was normally 100 percent fatal. The blast lifted me off the ground and planted me face-first. I couldn’t move. I was near the Cambodian border, and my guys called in a medevac helicopter. They flew me to Saigon at top speed. They landed two blocks from the hospital, threw me in an ambulance and drove me the two blocks. When they threw open the ambulance doors, there were four or five nurses waiting who immediately wheeled me into surgery.


The late actor Sebastian Cabot visits Ron Greenwood 50 years ago in a Saigon hospital where he was recovering from injuries suffered in a grenade attack. (Photo: PHOTO COURTESY OF RON GREENWOOD)

I learned the next day that the surgeon who operated on me had been operating for 22 straight hours when I arrived.

My surgery lasted seven hours. When I awoke in the intensive-care unit, I was paralyzed. I was told it was temporary because of my severe injuries. They also told me that when they cut me open, I had less than 10 minutes to live due to internal bleeding. I had been hit with 22 pieces of shrapnel. The surgeons removed 17. Three worked their way out within two years, and the last two remain in my right foot.

I prayed that I would be able to live for 50 more years. Last week was that anniversary.

Like many combat veterans, I had survivor’s guilt for many years. I also asked that age-old question: Why had I lived while others didn’t? Seventy percent of my fellow platoon members were killed or wounded in the nine months I spent in Vietnam. I finally told myself that I had survived because there was something I had to do before I left this Earth. 

I am immensely grateful, of course, to my fellow Redcatchers, who served alongside me in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade, as well as to the Army surgeons who saved my life.

Without my wife, Lisa, however, I would never have realized my purpose. Lisa and I have dedicated our lives to serving veterans, making it our life’s work. I believe all Americans owe a debt to those who served our great nation. Through my service to fellow veterans, I have healed.

Our veterans deserve everyone’s best efforts. Please reach out to a veteran today —there are many veterans in need of help and who deserve our immense gratitude. “To those who much has been given, much is expected.” What a difference 50 years makes. Thank you, to all of America’s veterans. God bless you all.

“For his honorable service, Ron was awarded the Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Meal and the National Defense Service Medal. Ron Greenwood, and his wife, Lisa Greenwood, are the founders of Gold Coast Veterans Foundation.”

Events

Super Bowl Party at VFW Post 1679: Feb. 3, Post opens at noon, VFW members and guest, all veterans welcome, VFW Post, 3801 Market St., Ventura. Call 805-642-2674 for more details.

Visions of Warriors: Feb. 9, 1-3:30 p.m., E.P. Foster Library, 651 E. Main St. Ventura, 805-648-2716. “Visions of Warriors” is a documentary film. Four veterans from the Vietnam War era to the Iraq War participate in the Veteran Photo Recovery Project at the Veterans Affairs in Menlo Park and use innovative photography therapy to treat their mental illness. 

Karaoke at The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1679: Feb. 15, 7-9 p.m., Veterans of Foreign Wars, 3801 Market St., Ventura.

Simi Valley VFW Post 10049 steak dinner: Feb. 23, 6-9 p.m, 4242 E. Los Angeles Ave, Simi Valley, $15 for steak, potatoes, side vegetable, salad and dessert. Cocktails at 5 p.m.

Source: VC Star article from February 2, 2019