81-year-old North Carolina vet called 911 because hungry, battling cancer

On Tuesday, an 81-year-old man called 911 for a different kind of emergency.  He had just returned home from extended treatment for prostate cancer and had found his cupboards and refrigerator bare.

The Washington Post reported that North Carolina Army veteran Clarence Blackmon returned home on Tuesday after more than a year in a hospital and rehabilitation facility.  When he arrived at his apartment, he found his refrigerator empty and he had no way to get to the grocery store.  With no family nearby, he desperately called 911.

When asked what his emergency was, Blackmon responded, “What I need is someone to get to the grocery store and bring me some food because I need to eat something.  Whatever you can do to help.  I can’t do anything.  I can’t go anywhere.  I can’t get out of my damn chair.”

Marilyn Hinson, the 911 dispatcher who answered the call, immediately reacted by writing down Blackmon’s grocery list.  “He was hungry,” she said.  “I’ve been hungry.  A lot of people can’t say that, but I can, and I can’t stand for anyone to be hungry.”

Hinson’s supervisor, Lisa Reid, told the Huffington Post she was with the 911 operator when Blackmon’s call came in.  “He said he had money to pay and he gave Marilyn a grocery list,” she said. “I looked at the list and it was small, but very specific. He wanted a head of cabbage, tomato juice, popcorn, cans of beans and beets, an avocado and some Pepsi. He said, “I don’t want no diet, I want Pepsi in the bottle.’”

Along with Fayetteville police officers, Hinson delivered the grocery items to Blackmon’s home.  She even made him a couple of ham sandwiches while she was there.

According to the Washington Post, Blackmon said his wife, Wanda, died from cancer in 2011.

“I got married in 1954, the same year the Army drafted me,” Blackmon said. “In 1956, the sergeant made me a corporal. He told me he’d make me a sergeant if I stayed one more year. I said, ‘Sergeant, I really appreciate that, but I had to leave my girl behind right after we got married. I can’t stay in. It wouldn’t be right.’”

Blackmon left the military to work as an administrator for a petroleum company for 40 years.

“She was a dynamite person,” Blackmon said, speaking of his wife. “When she passed away, my situation went downhill. We had so many bills and we had barely been making the mortgage with both our pensions. I just couldn’t manage it myself.”

As for his health, Blackmon told the Huffington Post his condition has taken its toll. “It’s unreal how devastating one thing can be,” he said. “Sometimes I just fall down and pray.” He said his doctor gave him “maybe another six months. But he doesn’t know and I don’t know. Only God knows and I thank God I’m still here.”

Blackmon said he should be receiving home health services soon, but was thankful someone was able to help him in his time of need.  “It was like a little miracle ringing in my ear,” he said. “I thought, ‘Jesus, you’ve answered all those prayers.’”


  • Christopher Ross is journalist and creative fiction writer based in Florida. Ross studied Journalism and English at Florida Atlantic University and currently writes for several different blogs and websites.

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