News: Community comes together to help terminally ill soldier
Story by Sgt. Amie McMillan
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - A terminally ill soldier and his family received a lot more help than they could have imagined on moving day after a large response to a post on a well-known social media networking site.
After being contacted by someone close to the family, U.S Army W.T.F! Moments took action by posting a message to their Facebook audience of more than 328,000 people.
“BREAK, BREAK, BREAK - FT BRAGG people, a wounded brother is need of assistance!” - This message was all it took for approximately 100 soldiers, retirees, and civilians to show up to help a fellow soldier Sept. 27, at a home in Fayetteville, N.C.
Cars filled the streets as people arrived, ready to help the Petrie family move from their large rental home, to a smaller home they recently purchased.
“I received at least 55 texts and about 30 to 40 phone calls right after the message was posted to their page,” Sgt. 1st Class Nakischa Adams, platoon sergeant, Warrior Transition Battalion. “There was such an overwhelming response from people who wanted to help in one way or another that I actually had to turn some away.”
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Charles Petrie, who has honorably served the United States Army for almost 30 years, was given an estimated two months to live by doctors back in September 2012. He was diagnosed with sarcoma in his sinus, which is one of the rarest forms of cancer and in the rarest place, according to his wife, Terri.
Despite his odds, Petrie is still spending quality time with his family. However, his recent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed that his cancer is growing again and there is nothing else the doctors can do.
“We really have had a lot of peace throughout this whole thing. The support has been amazing,” said Terri Petrie, wife of Charles Petrie.
“There were times when it was just 24/7, when Chuck was so bad and in hospice. Everybody else made sure my kid got to school and made sure the dogs got let out. I think that was the hardest part, but it wasn’t that hard because of all the support,” she added.
Charles and Terri Petrie have been married for 25 years and are the parents of three children: Matt, 24, who is a first lieutenant in the Indiana Army National Guard, Emily, 23, who is a recent graduate of Baptist Bible College, and Benjamin, 18, who is currently a senior in high school.
“He’s a chief who has almost 30 years in and was a pilot. I don’t know how he reacted when everyone showed up, but you can tell he really appreciated it,” said Kendra Hartwick, wife of an Air Force retiree and member of the North Carolina Patriot Guard Riders. “I think about how blessed we are and how honored we are to help him out right now. Whenever we see a need, we try and help out.”
“My daughter texted me ‘Dad’s all choked up,’ and I’m like, I know, I already have one cry in there. It’s just amazing, people helping people,” said Terri.
Through all of the obstacles Petrie has faced in the last year, his attitude remains positive as he prepares his family for what is ahead.
“If you’re not servicing your family first, then you’re not going to be much good to anyone else,” said Charles Petrie.
“Through all of the medical things he’s going through right now, he still has a very open, happy, positive outlook on life. He’s keeping the quality of life as normal as possible in a time where it’s chaotic,” said Adams.
“What more could you say about a person that is concerned about others when it’s his time to worry about him?” she added.
“I think that’s the hardest thing, trying to figure out how to put your life together and keep it going when everything’s really falling apart. But with all the support and all that the WTB has done for us, without that, it would’ve been impossible,” said Terri.
“Out of this, I’d say this is the biggest thing, people have to help people. When all goes to hell in a hand basket, that’s the only thing that keeps you sane, really,” Terri added.