Sometimes I get a little emotional when I meet certain people. About two weeks ago I pulled into a Walgreens Store and noticed a man getting into a car. Nothing really unusual about that given that people do it countless times a day all across the country. However, my eyes were immediately drawn to the bumper stickers on his car. One read "Wounded WWII Veteran,” and the other read "Bastogne/Ardennes.” That was enough for me.
I had to acknowledge this man and say something, shake his hand, and otherwise honor him. I might add, his hands are as big as catcher’s mitts and are as warm as his heart. So I got out of my car and approached his, and tapped on his window. I thanked him for his service and we chatted for a little while. I asked if he’d ever been on an Honor Flight to which he said “no,” and that he couldn’t. To make a long story short, my new friend has PTSD, and has had it since WWII before they called it that or had any idea just how devastating it was and is. Anyway, I gave Charlie my card and wished him well.
The story might have ended there, however I mentioned this chance encounter to a friend of mine that more than a few of my readers know. This friend of mine and her husband, Andrea and Frank Plescia, are among the most vibrant and staunch supporters of Veterans in South Florida, if not the entire country. Whenever they meet or become aware of a veteran or soldier in need of anything, they are right there. I’m certain neither of them understands the concept of sleep. But I digress.
When I mentioned this meeting to Andrea, she simply asked if I had gotten the man’s contact information. Well, come to think of it I hadn’t, but somehow I felt that he and I would be crossing paths again…forgetting that I had in fact given him my business card in that parking lot.
Well dontcha know it, about three days later, my phone rang and it was him. Charlie wanted to chat, and boy oh boy, did I ever want to chat with him. For starters, I asked if I could share his contact info with some friends of mine. He approved and I got him in touch with Andrea, who I might add, didn’t miss a beat. She began doing her magic and got this hero plugged in to some great stuff. He may not be able to get on an airplane, but Charlie is a man that has something to say and he is an inspiration…he has a message and a voice.
Let me take a moment and properly introduce this blessed soul to you. Charlie Bisol is just that guy next door, he got born at a rough time in our nation’s history; he grew up, and he did what kids have been doing since time began. He had fights with other kids in his neighborhood in the morning, and laughed about it later that day with the same kids. Maybe, more than a few times like so many other kids back in the day, he and the gang scraped up a nickel together and bought a pack of cigarettes and maybe snuck away with everyone else on the block. The point is, he was just a normal kid growing up in the twenties and thirties. Guys like Al Capone and John Dillinger were on the newsreels in the movie houses and the world was a very different place, albeit a very dangerous place.
Then one day back in 1941, at the ripe old age of 16 or 17, Charlie, like millions of other young men everywhere on both sides watched the world they knew change in an instant. Yeah, the winds and rumors of war had been brewing for a while, but on the very fateful morning of December 7, 1941, without any warning, forces of the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked our Naval Base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and forever changed the mindset of millions of guys and gals like Charlie Bisol. We were at war and all bets were off.
As fate would have it, Charlie was sent to the European theatre and found himself up to his neck in some of the most intense battles of the war on that front. Assigned as a truck driver, he found himself in lots of very dangerous and potentially deadly circumstances. In any war zone, all vehicles are targets of opportunity, and trucks that can move men and supplies are prize targets. There are snipers, mines, tanks, and who knows what else? Every turn of the wheel could be your last moment….the kind of stuff that keeps you awake for days on end, and wakes you up in a cold sweat and shaking when you do drift off.
Such was and has been Charlie Bisol’s existence. Charlie, and all the other guys and gals that did what they had to do to defend our great nation.
Charlie told me a lot more stuff about his experiences and life since the war ended, and I could tell you about it right here. However, I wouldn’t do nearly as good a job as Charlie did in his newly published book on the subject. In this short, easy to read book, Charlie brings you along on his travels through the Ardennes Forest. You get the sense you’re sitting in the truck next to him one minute and hunkered down in a foxhole with him the next. There is a lot of gut wrenching emotion in this book…and there is a lot of sanitized editing that took place at the publisher. As you read along, you’ll get the sense where that editing took place, because you’ll likely be thinking and saying some of the same things you can imagine that Charlie actually wrote.
The book, "(PTSD)” "Begins with a bang” discusses his exploits in theatre and Charlie is currently working on a follow up story of his life and struggles since. You may obtain a copy of "(PTSD)” by simply clicking here.
This is a must read book and Charlie Bisol is a blessing to have as a friend.