Peter Lagattuta is out of the Army now, enjoying a quieter life in Garner, but 12 years ago he was fighting in the Gulf War and appreciated the kindness of strangers.
"Being so far away from home, the letters and gifts were a tremendous support for me," he said.
Lagattuta developed a special bond with 9-year-old Matthew Young from Wisconsin. It started when Matthew wrote a letter addressed to any soldier and Peter answered it.
"We started corresponding over there and he was very supportive and interested in what was going on," Lagattuta said.
Young and Lagattuta stayed in touch over the years. They met for the first time about three years ago when Matthew joined the Marines and got orders to Camp Lejeune. Now Matthew is at war and Peter is the one preparing to write letters and send care packages.
"Now the roles are reversed and I worry a lot about him because it's a different war this time," Lagattuta said.
Lagattuta returned from the Persian Gulf safe and sound with a photo album full of memories. He feels very confident Young will do the same.
"If anybody's going to survive, it's going to be Matt because he's very smart and he's a very good leader too. Even though he's only a corporal, Matt is like a sergeant's dream," Lagattuta said.
Lagattuta stays in touch with Young's family in Wisconsin, but he has not heard from the young soldier in about a month, when he deployed from Camp Lejeune for the war.