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-   -   Army Chief's wisdom (https://forums.1911forum.com/showthread.php?t=439476)

Ricky T 12-09-2013 12:34 PM

Army Chief's wisdom
A couple of members had approached me about starting a thread to post a collection of Army Chief aka Chuck Petrie's best advices, wisdoms, one liners, etc.

I will begin it with his words from October of 2012 when he asked me to announce his illness and the battle that he will be waging. I will add the words from his wife from this past Saturday morning, December 7, 2013 announcing his passing. Then I will start to collect (cutting and pasting) his words from threads as I remember and as time allows. We will build this slowly, I need your help to collect the words. This is a work in progress and it will not be in any chronological order, it will not be perfect or complete.

October 2012:

I'm sorry to report that my heath continues to devolve rapidly. The sinus sarcoma which first appeared in August has already reached an inoperable stage, and is now expected to take my life in the next 60 days.

Will begin a 2x daily radiation protocol on Monday at UNC so as to at least mount as aggressive an 11th-hour response as possible, but we've no curative expectations of this; we're simply hoping to be able to slow things enough to afford us a few more days together as a family.

God remains in control. Above all else, I feel such a compelling sense of gratitude for the fullness of the life that I have been given, the blessings that have been waiting around every corner, the incredible opportunities that have been extended to me, the friendships that have been my privilege to forge and sustain over the years, and for a family that has consistently loved and supported me far more than I could ever hope to deserve. My story may be ending somewhat prematurely, but what an incredibly meaningful story it has been.

I am prepared for this final fight, and am going forward from here with a very tangible sense of peace; that said, please keep Terri and my family in your prayers as we deal with this most unexpected life change.

In a closed discussion, he added:

Truth is, I'm not even all-that-sure I'm going to make it to Radiation. They can't start until Monday at 0700, and we'll really have to see if I can still breathe while laying flat on my back by then.

Another private message:

Am already beginning to struggle with some airway issues, so I get the sense that the close-in fight will quickly be at hand. In this, I would appreciate a bit of assistance if you've any ideas on how we might make the general membership aware of what is going on, without it coming off as disruptive, overly-dramatic or presumptuous -- which is why I haven't posted anything on my own behalf.

His wife's email on December 7, 2013:

I'm so sorry to have to share this, but Chuck passed away in his sleep at around 2am this morning. I'm so sad as I write this, but so relieved and happy for Chuck. The suffering is over, and he is in heaven now. Many people hope in the reality of heaven and that they'll go there when they die, but for Chuck and me, it's not just a "maybe" or a "I hope I was a good enough person." We know for sure. We have complete faith through our belief in Jesus Christ and the forgiveness He's offered. Chuck and I are both far from perfect and have made a lot of missteps in our lives, but thankfully, it's not about us.

All our comments this past two years about God being good and our having been blessed, stand true even on this awful morning. Chuck's biggest desire was that he be found faithful and that he didn't get in the way and screw up what God wanted to do through this whole thing (his exact words).

He loved you guys and was always deeply moved by the outpouring of love and friendship that came from friends he had, in most cases, never even met. He was so happy to have met both of you! I've been so grateful for the whole community as well! I can't explain what it's all meant to me.

God bless and I will let you know about services, etc. when I have more information.

A couple of pictures of Chuck training with Ken Hackathorn during better days:

Photos courtesy of www.gandrtactical.com



Here is a picture of our friend when he was in Iraq.







Beware that the pictures are not hosted by me, they're hosted by their owners, so if they disappear, there's nothing I can do about it. Sorry.

jordanl 12-09-2013 12:48 PM

Thank you Ricky T.

Starship Enterpris 12-09-2013 12:51 PM

Godspeed to him and prayers to his family........

Ricky T 12-09-2013 12:54 PM

10/14/2012 - from the m4carbine.net forum:

Do I believe in the God of the Bible, His plan for mankind, and the redeeming work that He accomplished through the sacrifice of His Son? Yes, I do, though this ultimately this speaks more to my relationship with God -- through Christ -- than it does with any particular expression of organized religion in society. I do try to attend church, and I do have an interest in the doctrines of the faith, but I do not look to the denominations, conventions, councils, or boards formed by men to discern this truth: instead, I rely upon careful reading of the Word, allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal what I need to know, and I try to devote some time to discussions with Godly men who I know have no agendas aside from becoming more consistent followers of Christ.

Like most anything else man organizes (even for the noblest of purposes), there are many inherent flaws in contemporary concepts of religion. Too much of it has become a duty, a performance, a social obligation or some kind of financial cause. Little wonder that there are so many out there whose foundational beliefs in God has been shaken, or even destroyed, by those who would seek to substitute Christ's message of simple belief with a littany of their own expectations, rules, and -isms. Jesus Christ did not go to the cross to provide us with -isms; He went because it provided the atonement necessary to restore access to God, even in our gravely flawed states. We've taken the simple and made it difficult ... and it's wrong.

In this case, because my focus is upon walking faithfully with God Himself, rather than being right with a church, I have absolute confidence in His ability to work in my situation. It may spare my life, but I have zero expectations of that, nor am I praying to get out of this. What I am praying is that I will serve the purpose He has called me to, and that I will do it faithfully. If God needs me to be his barrel wrench right now, then I will find fulfillment in that calling, period. Again, I'm talking about a relationship with the Father that is anchored to the simplest and earliest of Christ's teachings: believe that He did the work necessary to save my soul, follow His example, carry the message of eternal salvation, and care for one's fellow man. It is not a cultural phenomenon. It not based upon traditions or opinions. It is not something that will change 200 years from now during the next big doctrinal/social/end-of-the-world shift.

This is the real source of my peace, even the the challenge for me is to carefully consider how faithful I actually am being in my daily walk. Sometimes I am a complete lunkhead. Sometimes I am slow to listen. Sometimes I still just want to do things my way. Still, when is all is said and done, more than anything else, I want to be found faithful.

In a much larger, more philosophical sense, I think it is a very natural thing for thinking men everywhere to ponder the question "do I believe in a God who might actually be in control of all of this, and if so, who might have some actual purpose or direction for my life? My sense is that this is hard-wired into the souls of most, but we learn to ignore it after years of seeing jaded versions of "Christianity" play out that bear little resemblance to the Christ that they are supposedly seeking to emulate. Either way, this doesn't make the basic questions any less valid, and something as simple as the "Roman's Road" in the New Testament can provide some exceedingly simple -- if profound -- truths on where we stand before God, and what can be done about it. Now, it's true that the right church at the right time can also be helpful in helping a new believer find a few consistent keys to growth, but the church is not the vehicle by which God offers the gift of salvation. So, where does that leave me?

Adherence to a formal religion? No, thanks.

A meaningful relationship with God? Absolutely -- I would be in total despair without it.

I'm admittedly on pain meds meds right now, but hopefully this helps to shed a bit of light on where I'm coming from, without putting anyone into an uncomfortable position who might have very different views -- or no views at all. I appreciate your support just the same either way, but thought a word of explanation might be useful as to why I'm not allowing my situation to remove the joy from however many days I might happen to have left. I came into the world a pretty light-hearted, optimistic guy, and I plan to go out in very much the same way.


Grandpas50AE 12-09-2013 01:40 PM

Thanks for taking on this task Ricky. Chuck's explanation of the foundation of his belief, and all that it implies, is far more eloquently stated than I could have done, but expresses the fundamentals of truth that I hold - it is as if he were looking into my soul and putting words to it. I feel more than blessed to have known him even if only over the 'net.


SVTNate 12-09-2013 01:41 PM

Oh man. I feel sick to my stomach.

I have a lot of admiration for the man and will miss talking to him.

Rest in peace my friend, and bless his family.

Atlas 12-09-2013 01:59 PM

Great to see this. Thank you.

Ricky T 12-09-2013 02:07 PM

Please reserve this thread only for posting Chuck's wisdom and comments regarding his exact quotes. Feel free to cut and paste your "Chuck's favorite" quote here.

Please leave words of condolenses in the General Discussion stick thread.


TwoThirtyBall 12-09-2013 02:10 PM

In my short time on the Wilson Forum I found AC to be extremely helpful. Even though he has probably helped a 100 newbies with their first WC builds, he took his time to put together a eloquent response to help alleviate my concerns with my first build.

I found to that be really impressive.. That he took some of his last moments on earth to share his knowledge with someone who has a common interest.

I spend time on numerous forums as I have interest in blades, home theater setups, DIY stuff, etc, etc, etc., and as many people know, often times those who frequent forums and become a part of them have a hard time accepting new members.

This did not appear to the be case with Army Chief. In my limited dealings with him, he was nothing but courteous, helpful, and knowledgeable in his hobby.

I wish nothing but the best for him and his family.

SA-TRP-Operator 12-09-2013 02:24 PM

From AC just a few weeks ago..............
From AC just a few weeks ago..............

Appreciate the intercession and kindness, brother.

For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. I am indeed a man of faith, and perfectly content with my fate. God has a purpose -- my only prayer is to not let myself get in the way of whatever He is seeking to do through this. All else is of only a passing significance to me, and every day that I do get is a blessing. It's pretty much just that easy. =]

Yes, I do have better days than others where the body is concerned, but the mind remains strong and the spirit positive. As I'm already a year past my predicted life expectancy, you won't hear too much complaining from me.

Again, my sincere thanks for your note. Means a lot.


Ricky T 12-09-2013 02:51 PM

Chuck's observation on the gun control debate (around Feb. 2013):

Like most of you, I've been watching the battle lines form once again in our national gun control discourse (something we have long known was coming), and waiting to see just how far afield things get carried this time. Another discussion for another time, but I'm always disappointed at the way that political expediencies force the focus upon symptoms, while completely ignoring the underlying disease.

Someone asked Chuck what exactly was his duty with the Army prior to being diagnosed with cancer:

Now there is a question I don't answer very often. The truth is that I am the Deputy Executive Officer for the Commanding General of U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM).

Working directly for a 4-star as a member of his personal staff affords me a lot of flexibility (which has been a godsend while I've been sick), and while the job is primarily administrative, much of what I do is coordinating his aggressive travel schedule with a fleet of small military jets. In other words, I'm not exactly a fangs-out operator these days, but I do love what I do, so going back to work is no hardship -- once I get my uniform on, that is. Getting dressed still kind of wears me out. lol.


Ricky T 12-09-2013 03:13 PM

On 5/1/13 he said this:

Not that I am the font of all spiritual or relational wisdom, but I actually managed to figure this one out: you've got to find a woman who loves God more than she loves you -- albeit just barely.

She will be much more inclined to forgive when you're being a clod (because it's the the right thing to do, and it is wrong to harbor bitterness and offenses) and she will be more likely to recognize and work on her own shortcomings before they become a major source of agitation for you and/or the family.

I happen to be the meatball in my own relationship, but fortunately I chose well, and Mrs. AC and I will celebrate our 25th Anniversary in less than 90 days ... unless I kick her butt to the curb, of course. lol Not much chance of that happening, though; she's only improved with age, and was already far better than I deserved in the first place.


On 11/4 about his daughter's engagement and her fiancee:

Without turning this into too much of a sidebar, as a fellow man of faith, I will tell you that the new fiancÚ is a true gentleman with a clear heart for God and a strong drive to serve others. When you find that kind of discernment and maturity in any young man (instead of the cocksure pride that we doubtless had. lol) it makes it a pretty easy thing to entrust him with a beloved daughter who happens to share those same life goals. Feeling pretty blessed all-around.

Not sure if I'll still be on my feet for a June wedding, of course, but I have perfect peace about where this couple is headed. They are doing it right. What dad could really ask for more?


They later changed the wedding date to after Christmas. :(

Ricky T 12-09-2013 03:44 PM

Thanking folks for his birthday wishes on 11/7:

What a great day, men. Thank you for taking note of the occasion.

So many kindnesses. So many blessings. So many good friends texting, writing and sending good wishes. Calls from brothers in Germany. Family surrounding me with love and great surprises. Wonderful gifts that I could not have anticipated. More than one purposed and carefully-selected toast in my honor. Even had a 4-star General ring the long-latent work BlackBerry to sing Happy Birthday to me.

I continue to marvel at the manner in which so many continue, relentlessly and without even the slightest hesitation, continue to pour out genuine affection, concern and to me. I cannot deserve any of it, and yet they -- and you -- haven't slowed down for a moment, and show no signs of backing off now. How can I even begin to mount an adequate response to that, really? I can't. There is simply no way that words can touch it. Not even any of the ones that usually come so easily to me in any other circumstance. I can only tell you that you enrich my life in more ways than can be counted, and I am deeply humbled.

So, yep ... I guess I made it to 48, after all. Never saw it coming. Now I see it going. And I am feeling pretty darned good. Thanks for choosing to have been part of it today.

Better brothers I could not, and would never dare, ask for.


A week after his birthday, "Operation Irene" landed at his house, yes they gave it a name. A band of m4carbine.net brothers took it upon themselves to solicit funds, donations and contributions for a care package for Chuck. Some of the stuff were donated by our own WilsonCombatRep. The picture below was only a small part of stuff. There was also a Surefire X300 Ultra for Chuck's new Colt Rail Gun that a 1911forum moderator donated (it wasn't me), Raven Concealment System holster, Wilson mags, a Volund Gearworks ATLAS belt, Wilson coffee mug and ammo.


Chuck's comments on the whole deal:

Just wanted to add a quick footnote on the heels of what Cory said, above. While I cannot know precisely how our various interactions come together on or off of the forum, it has always been my desire to see folks truly invest in each other in ways that matter beyond the simple give-and-take of another online community. These resources have their limitations, of course, and I don't wish to be silly about any of this, but given the amount of time that so many of us spend here (whether by design or pure happenstance) I think it is important to be able to take something "real" away from it.

If my situation has served as some sort of catalyst for guys coming together, finding some genuine lines of support and forging new friendships, then I obviously find tremendous encouragement in that. It's not about me, ultimately, but about the way in which like-minded men choose to create and maintain meaningful exchanges that serve to enrich the lives of those around them. So, what might seem like a small thing on the face of it (though I would not call Operation Irene a small effort), I find even greater significance in the fact that so many of you have learned, as I have learned this past year, that the investments that we make in others are among the most important things that we can do with our lives. It runs contrary to popular wisdom, but the truth is that the less we look out for ourselves, the more extraordinary the results.


On December 2:

Short on eloquence today, boys. Haven't been online much at all.

I really, really wrenched my back just before lunch, and have been laid-up hard all day. Good thing I already had strong pain meds on hand. I'm just really weak in the physical sense (muscle atrophy from prolonged steroids), and moving a small pistol rack onto my nightstand was all it took. Totally unrelated to anything else ... just one of those old guy things.

I had actually felt well-enough to be out tooling-around in the garage for an hour or so prior to that, and having some old energy reserves back had proven to be a great encouragement. It's something that I've been struggling with quite a bit since the move, actually. Most days, simple movements from the bedroom to the study, living room or kitchen are about all I'm getting accomplished. Am trying to fight my way back into a more normal routine, and working on getting back out of the house with Mrs. AC more often.

Someone asked what flavor of 1911 was Chuck's favorite, he replied on 12/4:

1911s? What is this? Slow-pitch softball? lol

I think that different folks being very different entry and exit points to questions like this. You recall the influences of Cooper (as do I) and were drawn to the Commander. Another unique old Colt came your way via a close family member. There is significance tied to these guns that reaches far beyond the steels and woods involved. Context matters.

So it is with me. My affinity for the 1911 is less-driven by any particular delusion that it remains the best tool for the job in 2013, but rather by the fact that it is pretty-consistent with who I am as a person. I'm willing to make the greater knowledge base investment to get the necessary results from a 1911. I appreciate what can be done to these guns -- and what I can do with them -- that cannot generally be done with others. In this, I suppose I am simply reflecting an innate appreciation for classic, high-quality things in general. I apply much the same logic to timepieces and fountain pens.

Where 1911s are concerned, I've ended-up in a place where old custom Colts probably speak to me more than anything else. Model-wise, Commanders remain a favorite just for what they are, but 5" guns really form the cornerstone of my armamentarium. Without going into too much detail, on any given day, that means that you might find me with a Wilson Stealth, a custom Colt LW Commander, a custom Colt Rail Gun or some other variation on the 5" theme that meets a particular need. I may have more to say about all of this in time (and likely will), but for now, I think I am going to leave it at that.


Ricky T 12-09-2013 03:46 PM

"Elite" designations come from the things that you DO in life, and not from the things that you buy along the way.


James3612 12-09-2013 04:59 PM

First, decide what you want the weapon to be - Concealed carry, bedside, BBQ, long range shooting, CQB, whatever. Then, the options of significance (sights, scopes, finish, etc.) will become self-evident. The other options are in the eye of the beholder.

R0CKETMAN 12-09-2013 05:16 PM

Privately with topic redacted


Originally Posted by Army Chief

Well done, brother! Happy for you!


Gamecockgangsta 12-09-2013 05:25 PM

A recent quote that hit me funny because it's so true...I thought it was great advice considering a lot of the questions asked.


My standard advice on these kinds of topics is that, if you suddenly develop an irresistible compulsion to work on a 1911 -- with or without a Dremel -- then you need to go out and buy yourself a RIA, hit the garage workbench and knock yourself out. Just don't start experimenting on a $4k pistol that is almost guaranteed to be in far better condition when you start your project than it will be once you've finished making your "improvements."

WitchDoctor 12-09-2013 06:41 PM

Running specs by AC....
From the keyboard of the man himself:

Where are you really headed with this one, Trooper?


You will be missed!

RCND82 12-09-2013 06:49 PM

I am in tears and admiration every time I read this private message:

Faith remains strong and I'm in very good spirits actually, but no -- I'm on a pretty rapid decline, truth be told. Tumor regrowth has been unusually-aggressive and swift over the past couple of weeks, and I've no viable medical options to mitigate it this time. Again, not a matter of any great consequence to me, with eternity secured, but just something that colors the perspective a bit, as you might imagine.

The prayers are always appreciated, brother. I don't pray for healing myself, but I do pray in earnest that, whatever God is seeking to accomplish through this, that I will not get in the way. There is a purpose here, and I'm content with whatever it might be, whether I am meant to know it in the here and now or not.


Grandpas50AE 12-09-2013 07:02 PM

Here is an entry from a week or two ago, I found it humorous but generally true:

Keep in mind that esoteric equals expensive

Grandpas50AE 12-09-2013 07:08 PM

Another really good one
This one was one of his responses about waiting times that I found rather poignant:

In other words, spend some time dancing with the girl that you brought with you, rather than constantly watching to see who might be hovering over by the punch bowl. If you can't learn to find any immediate satisfaction with the Wilson gun that you "couldn't possibly live without" last year, how is the arrival of the next one really gong to change the equation any?

The questions are rhetorical, of course, but this business about waiting being difficult comes up fairly often around here, and I think guys forget that it really has a lot less to do with the guns than it has to do with human nature itself. I'm pleased that so many of you have other orders in the queue to look forward to, but I'll bet you're also overlooking some cool opportunities to spend some quality time enjoying one or two fine pistols that you've already got sitting not so very far away from where you're sitting right now.


Tom R 12-09-2013 07:38 PM

Ever chiding, in a respectful way, gun fetishism vs utility, I liked this recent quote,

"I do find it somewhat interesting that, at a time when Wilson's is building their ambi thumb safety-equipped pistols with the BP units that no longer feature the traditional foot extension, they would issue a contract that calls for right-side panels to retain the cutout by default.

On the other hand, there seems to be a very thin line on the Wilson board these days between attention to detail and a rather odd degree of obsession, and I think we may have just found it. Again.


Gonna miss this guy....

Ricky T 12-09-2013 08:57 PM

Referring to a comment by fellow moderator PT-Partners about the contemporary custom 1911 owners taste and limited knowledge of history behind the weapon:

Actually, that is a very valid point. Our introduction to the gun was based upon experience, rather than research, as it simply wasn't possible to log on to a computer and have all of your questions answered in those days. Either you were issued one, bought one or spent time actually talking and shootng with with people who did. Worst case, you spent a lot of time on the phone.

Even in the early days of this forum, the nature of the discussions was often quite different and the number of available models -- especially in the Wilson line -- was a mere fraction of what is offered today. Customization options, now a Wilson hallmark, were much more constrained, and you couldn't simply "have it your way," more often than not.

Choice is a good thing, of course, but it can also be paralyzing; especially if your only real exposure to the guns comes from looking at pictures and reading forum posts. I almost feel sorry for guys struggling to build a spec sheet when they have no real idea what half of the check boxes really mean, why certain options exist or what might be best-suited to them as a shooter. It has, in some ways, almost surely become a more difficult process for a lot of guys. We see it here every day.

We've come a long way, and anything that increases our access to knowledge is a good thing, so I'm certainly not complaining. Like you, I do my best to guide and educate within the limits of my lane, and I'd like to think that we save a few guys here and there from making costly mistakes; still, it can be a tough row to hoe when you simply "don't know what you don't know." I also have to laugh a bit at the general lack of awareness of what constitutes the absolute top tier of the market. Wilson's builds a beautiful gun, and I'm a happy customer, but I wouldn't drop $7k on one. There are some others out there (i.e. the LTW crowd) that, well ... you know the rest of the story. You see and sell them every day.


Calishine 12-09-2013 09:31 PM

My recent fav

Originally Posted by Army Chief (Post 4797789)
Spend more time with the guns that you already own. Break them down. Study what is going on inside of them in detail. Shoot them more often. Clean them more carefully. Figure out what you did right and wrong when you ordered them the way that you did. Sort out what features you really like and which ones don't really seem to make as much of a difference as you thought that they might.

In other words, spend some time dancing with the girl that you brought with you, rather than constantly watching to see who might be hovering over by the punch bowl. If you can't learn to find any immediate satisfaction with the Wilson gun that you "couldn't possibly live without" last year, how is the arrival of the next one really gong to change the equation any?

The questions are rhetorical, of course, but this business about waiting being difficult comes up fairly often around here, and I think guys forget that it really has a lot less to do with the guns than it has to do with human nature itself. I'm pleased that so many of you have other orders in the queue to look forward to, but I'll bet you're also overlooking some cool opportunities to spend some quality time enjoying one or two fine pistols that you've already got sitting not so very far away from where you're sitting right now.

Perspective. ;)



Ricky T 12-09-2013 09:47 PM

The above passage has got to be one of the best from Chuck.

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