Full Transcript is Below:
– [Greg Sher] Charles.
– How you doing sir?
– Greg Sher from NFM TV.
– Pleasure meeting you, sir.
– Thank you for agreeing to be our NFM Salute for the month of May 2021.
– I appreciate it.
– Thank you for your service. [Greg Sher] You’ve got quite a story to tell. One of overcoming adversity, serving your country, coming back from the dead and serving the wounded community. It’s what we call a walk of life. Every person has their own path, and this is the path I walk. Well, we’re going to walk down it with you just for a moment here. You were wounded multiple times, two and a half stints in Iraq, 2003, 2004, 2005.
– Let’s talk about what inspired you to get into the military. I know your father served in Vietnam.
– Grandfather, World War II.
– So you had plenty of inspiration.
– And I always wanted to be like G.I. Joe, Spiderman, Batman, Superman.
– Well, you got your wish You served 16 years, two and a half tours of duty in Iraq. Let’s sit down and talk about them.
– [Greg Sher] What can you tell us `about your time served overseas?
– Served several stints overseas. We was there to normalize the situation, as we was told, but of course, you know, it turned a whole different direction.
– You were a weapons specialist.
– In your role, over in Iraq for those two and a half years. Your job there was what?
– Rifleman. I’m a small arms specialist.
– Now, when you showed up, the party was over.
– If we show up, it’s always a team measure, party is gonna soon end.
– You’re a Purple Heart recipient, two and a half tours, and you were wounded multiple times. Take us from the first time through the last.
– The first time it happened, it was actually downtown Baghdad. And next I know, boom, pop. And I’m like, ‘What was that?’ And when I turned around I’m already hit. I’m like, ‘Oh man.’ And it felt like glass had hit your arm because I have body armor and stuff on. Patched me up and moved out to another mission the next day. Other time I was in a Humvee, it ran across IED. Last time was almost like a blur. Now that’s when I lost team, team members, at that time. We was going in to rescue a down team, and we felt like we was on top of our job. And we got there, we suppress the opposition. As we’re loading bodies of our dead fellow men on to a track vehicle. The last thing I remember, I felt like a tremble. It was multiple IEDs and mortar fire coming in. Next thing I remember, it felt like I was dreaming. I was flowing through the air. And when the medics came, they basically said, you know, we counted you as out because when we came through the first town, it wasn’t anything going. It’s many years later, but it’s fresh as it was yesterday, when it happened.
– And you had a lot of treatment.
– Had a lot of treatment.
– [Greg Sher] You were at Walter Reed for three and a half years.
– [Charles] Three and a half years, 56 surgeries.
– [Greg Sher] 56 surgeries, you’ve now eclipsed 70 surgeries. What do you recall about those times?
– I would never imagine the pain I went through going through the rehabilitation. Mentally as well as physical. It seemed like it was surgery after surgery. Felt like I was sitting in quicksand and it just wasn’t happening quick enough. That’s when the Walter Reed scandal came up and I just felt like we’ve been mistreated as war fighters.
– [Greg Sher] And you reach out to your local Congress person.
– I did.
– And you shed a big light on that scandal and lots of actions were taken.
– And next thing I know, I see the President of the United States coming to my bedside the day after my surgery, with a tear in his eye, and said, ‘We’re gonna to fix this. I don’t know why this happened, but we will fix this.’ You know, and then his father, when me and his father and Tiger Woods played golf together, his father, he apologized for his son. He said, ‘You shouldn’t have been in Iraq.’ ‘That should have never happened.’ I said, ‘I agree.’ We fight now for the guys and girls who fall behind us, not for us, because we stand on the shoulders of the Vietnam era, the World War II, the World War I, Korean era. Just to have that effigy, and be a part of that, meant so much.
– Do you think in some ways you were spared for a greater cause?
– I think so. It felt like I was touched by an angel, sometime.
– [Greg Sher[ Your life has been Hollywood-like in some ways. Since you spoke out, so many other people who respect and admire you. What has that transition been like, from serving to being in the hospital for three and a half years to that transformation, where you’re finally heard?
– When you walk into a room, when you’re received a certain way, you just feel like maybe we do have some type of respect in the game, and maybe these guys do appreciate us.
– [Greg Sher] When you think about your life, your journey. You went through absolute hell and now you’re in a different place in your life. I mean, physically you’re walking. You look great. I know you’ve got metal and all kinds of things in you, but you’re so positive. Your energy is so infectious. How do you reconcile the two chapters in your life?
– [Charles] When you program your body and your mind to think positive and to feel good. Like certain times of the year, this whole side of my face light up because it’s metal. And it hurts. Most of my back is titanium. Once you’ve walked down that road of positivity, once you believe, I feel like I can soar. I may not fly but, at least I feel it for a moment.
– You brought some things for us to take a look at. Really appreciate you doing that. These things are amazing, man. I’m like, my hands shaking. It’s just incredible.
– This is the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantry badge. This is my Bronze Star, for valor. And these are what I call trinkets of love. It’s just what I call a remembrance piece. It brings me back to where I should be. When it comes to the Purple Heart, it’s the oldest decoration we have in U.S. history, military history. This one was constructed by George Washington himself.
– Most of the people that receive that they’re not with us today, are they?
– Definitely not.
– You golf a lot.
– I do.
– What is it about golf that soothes you and helps you continue the healing process?
– Golf is a complete game of concentration. You can hit that ball sweetly and it flows out into the heavens the right way. That in itself became my integrated recovery tool.
– [Greg Sher] So Charles, you chose IHOOT as the organization, in which you’d like the $2,500 donation to go towards. The acronym stands for In Honor Of Our Troops. What does the organization mean to you?
– Means a lot. It became a lifeline for me. I was at, at that point, it was at the beginning of the Walter Reed scandal. And I was probably, probably my lowest point because I was having all the crazy surgeries, I was being pressured by the family. I was being pressured by the media. I was being pressured by DOD itself. So I ran into Phil Strambler, while I was at Walter Reed. And he said, ‘You really look like you need to relax.’ I say, ‘Yeah, yeah, if I could afford to get out of here, I would relax.’ You want to make that happen?’ He’s like, ‘Let me see what I can do.’ Next thing I know I had plane tickets in my hand. And I went and got away in Vegas for about a week, and it meant so much because it helped me actually heal a lot faster. It melted away a lot of the anxiety I was going through.
– It’s an amazing organization. Philip.
– Started it 21 years ago. He’s a Vietnam Veteran himself
– [Charles] Right.
– [Greg Sher] He’s helped over 14,000 families, and the generous donations of accommodations, eclipses $43 million at this point. He’s just an incredible person. If you want to find out more information, obviously you can go to Ihoot.org. In addition to the $2,500 donation to IHOOT, we also have a gift for you. I’d like to give you right now. This is from our president Jan Ozga. This is a beautiful golf bag.
– I like that.
– Hopefully you can find some use for this.
– I will definitely. It’s a nice golf bag.
– Yup. We’re going to get your name engraved in it. Anything you want. I can’t thank you enough for your time and again for your service.
– Thank you. Thank you for sharing your story with us.
– We really appreciate it. Godspeed, continued good health to you.
– And I appreciate everything you do.
– Thank you.
– And your organization. I mean, you change lives. IHOOT changes lives. IHOOT basically changed my life. I’m who I am now because of guys like you and Phil.
– Thank you so much.
– Thank you. Appreciate this.
– You got it, bro.
– So much.