Forever Young is deeply saddened by the loss of Michael Petrina who was a friend to our organization and WWII veterans. He was struck and killed by a vehicle on Saturday, May 10, 2014 in Nashville while on duty as a police officer.
Mike Petrina loved Forever Young, especially our WWII vets. He attended one of our “Trip of Honors” to Washington DC with his “adopted” grandfather, Bill “Tailgunner” Drewry in April 2011. Mike made a huge impression on everyone who attended the trip because of his fun personality, serving heart, and love for the vets. Forever Young spent four nights in DC, so by the time we returned home, our group was deeply bonded.
At the end of the experience, Mike made an announcement to the vets, “I promise I will not let the WWII veterans be forgotten as long as I’m alive.” Everyone was in tears. The vets couldn’t believe a 21-year-old young man could care so deeply about them. He was unforgettable.
A few days before Michael was killed someone from the 2011 trip asked about him. Even the bus driver in Washington still asked about Mike three years later. How can we forget love, joy, passion, and true patriotism? When someone met Mike, he made them feel like the most special person on earth. He had a way of inviting you into his heart as if he had know you forever. There was an instant closeness with him, that no matter how long you knew him, you felt like a close friend.
Mike told me while in Washington,” I want to go on these trips with the WWII vets. I have so much respect for them and their sacrifice.” When we returned to Memphis, I told his mom, Joyce, how much he meant to the WWII vets and she said,” Mike has been interested in WWII since he was a little boy.” No doubt! Every time I asked Mike to honor our WWII vets, he was there. They had his heart!
Mike was one of the greatest young men I’ve ever known. Knowing there are young people in the world like Mike, gave me hope for the future of this country. The world lost something great this week, but heaven is now happier than it has ever been. We will remember Mike for the rest of our lives and we praise God for sharing him with us.