A remarkable outpouring of love and respect for a dying Vietnam veteran has made what is expected to be his last Christmas on Earth an extra special one. Thanks to all who participated.

Sgt. Calvin Corley, a U.S. Army Ranger with the 101st Airborne Division of the 147th Infantry, was exposed to the defoliant Agent Orange during his time in Vietnam and at 70 years old is suffering from health effects resulting from that exposure.

Sgt. Corley, whose only family is elderly and lives a great distance away, is spending Christmas in hospice care at the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, North Carolina. Alone, Sgt. Corley was afraid he'd be forgotten. But that was not to be the case.

My radio buddy Mark Starling of WWNC radio in Asheville and his pal and competitor Eddie Fox of KISS Country radio put out a request on their social media pages seeking email greetings for Sgt. Corley. I spotted Mark's request and shared it on the WBSM social media pages, as did others at radio stations across the country. The response was phenomenal.

Courtesy Rod Doty

On Friday Mark and Eddie were able to surprise Sgt. Corley with more than 7,400 email messages, 150 cards, and some 25-30 gifts. The good wishes poured in from 15 countries.

"I’ve had more perspective this week than probably at any other point in time in my life," Starling told WLOS ABC 13 News. "We didn’t know what we wanted out of this. We just wanted to make him happy, and that’s – I think we did that."

For his part, Sgt. Corley was thrilled with the outpouring of love. He told WLOS, "I’ve never waited for this, but it’s an honor to receive it."

Courtesy Rod Doty

If you'd like to send Corley a message, you can email it to sgtcorleyxmas@gmail.com.

WLOS says as a result of the success of the email campaign, the local VA
will select a new veteran each month to create an email address for "so folks can make sure no hero ever dies forgotten."

Thank you, Sgt. Corley, for your service. Thanks, Mark and Eddie, for your big hearts and hard work. And thanks to all of you who sent an email to make a dying veteran's last Christmas a memorable one.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app