WWII veteran Charles uplifted by card campaign


Charles is a WWII veteran recently hospitalized with a minor stroke; he’s also a member of our family and a Pets for Patriots volunteer. He’s recovering in large part due to the outpouring of love and prayers he’s received from wonderful people all over the country who have been sending him cards and letters.

CharlesThe first cards started to roll in after we made appeals on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Charles was just home from the hospital and the cards provided a welcome respite from the hard work of recovery. As he got stronger and his spirits brightened, so too did his reaction to each new delivery of cards and letters.

The routine has become that I visit the house with every new stack of mail and hand it over to Charles. He reads each return address aloud to Naomi (my mother and his significant other) and me, removes the card and gives me the envelope. He looks at the card before reading it out loud to us, then takes one more look before handing it to my mother. So it goes until the stack is empty.

After reading all the cards of the day, Charles always says,

I can’t believe all of these people took the time to write to me.”

Each card is added to the growing collection that’s perched on a sunlit counter in the kitchen, a collection which is quickly crowding out the nearby fruit bowl and coffee maker.

Our goal is to receive at least one card from every state by Veterans’ Day, November 11, 2011. Please check the map (click ‘view Charles get well letters in a larger map‘ to see the whole country) and if your state doesn’t have an envelope marker, it’s time to “represent!”

Cards gratefully accepted for Charles c/o Pets for Patriots, 218 E Park Avenue Suite 543, Long Beach NY 11561. THANK YOU!

View Charles get well letters in a larger map


Charles served in the Eighth Air Force 447th Bomb Group Phaneuf Crew as a ball turret gunner in a B-17, known as the “Flying Fortress.” During his deployment he flew 33 missions over enemy territory and is one of the last remaining members of his crew.

Currently, Charles is 91 years young and spends most of his time with Naomi, who he started dating when he was just 86 years old. Until recently he worked part-time and, with Naomi, continues to volunteer with Pets for Patriots. He loves to draw, play piano and sing (mostly serenading my mother), and has equal affection for all things technological. Charles has more than 5,000 songs on his iPod, from Benny Goodman to Bruce Springstein, and thinks YouTube is one of the greatest inventions of all time. At home he’s never far from his laptop and has another, much older computer, reserved mostly for “tinkering.” Whenever he wants to find or fix something, Charles heads to the internet. He’s even on Facebook.

Check out Charles in his Pets for Patriots YouTube video; we’re aiming for 10,000 views by year end!

~ Beth Zimmerman, founder + executive director Pets for Patriots


  1. Hairless Cat

    Hi Beth,

    I love what you did with Google Maps – I see that Charles even received a card from Hawaii.

    Sorry to hear that he suffered a stroke but glad he is doing well. He seems like a real happy and friendly guy on the video. Glad he has a nice companion dog.

    33 missions in a B-17 is true bravery. That is a lot of missions!

    Tell him thanx for serving in WWII.

    I wish him the best.

    =^..^= Hairless Cat Girl =^..^=

    • Pets for Patriots

      @Hairless Cat, we’re sorry to say that Charles died in July 2012 after a brief illness (unrelated to his stroke). His quiet bravery remains an inspiration to us every day!

  2. Tamara Parrott Jorstad

    Hello and best wishes from the grandniece of Col. Robert Keith Phaneuf, just doing an Internet search while adding to my geneaology information — God Bless!!


    Arlington, VA

  3. Lori Robson

    Porter, Texas will be represented real soon!!!

  4. Maureen

    i will be representing South Carolina tomorrow…… :o)

  5. Penny Hoskins

    Nevada will be represented as soon as I get to the post office.

    Such a wonderful man, it will be an honor to send a card.


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