DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) — United States Marine Richard Silva recalls Aug. 15, 2004: the day his base in Iraq came under attack by an IED at a tactical checkpoint. His friend and fellow Marine Jeffrey Perez had just relieved him.
“In Fallujah, it was kind of like the Wild West while I was there," he described.
Silva recalled, “He jokingly had made a pact to each other, (saying) God forbid if something happened to one another, we would name our child in the other Marine's honor and unfortunately, Jeffrey passed in my arms.”
Two days later, there was another attack.
“I ended up taking shrapnel in my right leg, which I have an implant. I broke my neck, shoulder," Silva explained.
He said other troops died that day. However, 32 surgeries later, he’s still here.
7 Action News caught up with him and his family at the Henry Ford Museum. The museum granted free admission to veterans, active duty military personnel and their families on Veterans Day.
Citizens Bank was also on-site. The bank and the Military Warriors Support Foundation gifted his family a second vehicle last year after they moved to Michigan from San Diego.
Silva said a second vehicle makes it easier for his family to get around and for his son Jeffrey to play travel hockey.
He has extended the generosity by using his new vehicle to pay it forward.
“Gifting this car to us means I’m able to take veterans to Ann Arbor, not only to VA or downtown," he explained.
He takes fellow veterans to their appointments.
"Just the feedback is awesome," Silva said.
Guests at the Henry Ford also had an opportunity to make holiday cards for veterans as well as active-duty military members and their families.
Citizens Bank said it's a chance to thank heroes like Silva for their service and sacrifice.
“Proud of his work. Grateful for his service,” Brittany O’Connor, Citizens Bank vice president of Public Affairs, said.
Silva said, “Kind of like my service in Iraq, you don’t see the effects, the ripple effect down the line. It’s kind of like a pebble being thrown in the lake and it’s getting bigger and bigger as it grows.”