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Story ID:2578
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:In Memory
Location:Owego New York USA
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By Fred Wickert

Rose is the daughter of my oldest sister. She raised five sons and a daughter. Four of her sons have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Three of her sons are in the army now. One of her sons dreamed of being in the navy, but was rejected due to his asthma and is now in college.

All of her sons were, as children, in the Boy Scouts. Rose became a Cub Scout leader as one of her sons became a Cub Scout during second and third grades. She was leader for another of her sons through second and third grade, and then became leader for a third group of Cub Scouts in the second and third grades. Charlie was one of that group.

Charlie was the oldest child in his family. He had two sisters and then a younger brother. His father became disabled and unable to work, and the mother, a nurse, became the sole breadwinner.

Charlie’s family attended the same church as Rose and her family and Charlie and Rose’s sons grew up in the Boy Scouts together. There were always things going on that included Charlie and he was like family.

The boys grew up and went through school together. Charlie loved to read, and during the summer between second and third grade, read a two-volume encyclopedia. Charlie was always polite and respectful to Rose and he and Rose were always glad to see each other.

Ron Pierce, Principal of Owego Free Academy in Owego, New York said of him, “he was actively involved in sports, clubs and student government. He was a natural born leader, always full of respect, and one of the most patriotic students I have ever met. If there was anybody you wanted on your team, it would be Charlie. He’d give you a hundred percent on anything he ever did.”

In January, 2005 Mark and Paul, sons of Rose, joined the army. They have both served a tour of duty in Iraq. (See THEY NEED YOUR PRAYERS, Ourecho story ID 1789) Charlie’s dream was to be an Army Ranger and he joined the army right after he graduated in 2005. Rose heard from Mark or Paul occasionally where Charlie was, but had heard nothing about him recently, until today.

Charlie, (Charles E. Bilbrey Jr.) was killed in action in Iraq early today, July 27, 2007. Rose is sad tonight. She wrote the following to the family:

“Please remember to pray for all of our troops. Mark and Paul expect to be deployed again soon. Mark and Paul are part of our family, but all of our soldiers are someone’s son or daughter, someone’s brother or sister, or someone’s niece or nephew, or someone’s mother or father. They all deserve our prayers and our support. Thank you.”