By Erin Strecker
June 25, 2012 at 04:39 PM EDT
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
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Ann Curry’s imminent departure from the Today show may have been a shock, but her fans are pulling together and hoping for a last-minute save. posted a petition from Sgt. Stephen Crowley asking the Today show to reconsider replacing Curry. The “About this Petition” section reads in part:

“First, I have to say that I love Ann Curry. I am an Iraq Veteran and Aspiring writer with PTSD and a 60% service connected disability. Life is not always so easy for me. I tend to struggle.

One of the things that gives me a sense of calm and certainty in life is Ann Curry’s compassionate style of journalism. I was in Iraq for ten months in 2005. That experience changed me forever. I am now very sensitive to the hurt, pain and troubles on this planet, even though I feel that I only received a very small portion of that experience.

Ann Curry’s sensitivity to the human experience telegraphs through her journalism, to me and many other fans and viewers.”

EW spoke with 49-year-old Crowley this morning about Ann Curry. He told EW that he’s a longtime fan of Curry’s work, particularly admiring her commitment to veterans. “I like her style of reporting— it really reaches me,” Crowley said.

As for why he decided to start the petition, Crowley explained that last week, he saw an article on Gawker making fun of Ann Curry and the fact she was on her way out on the Today show. “I thought, ‘What?’ [Because I couldn’t believe it],” he said.  “I was really mad, and I thought someone needed to start a petition [saying people liked Curry]. No one had, so I started one.”

Since Crowley posted the petition last week, it has collected over 18,000 signatures. Laughing, Crowley said, “I hope I don’t start an Occupy NBC, because I like the other people [on the show]. I don’t want to get anyone fired. I just think maybe they should add more people. Hire someone else too [but keep Ann].”

Crowley hasn’t yet heard from NBC or Curry, but explained he has had a previous Curry encounter. Last year, Crowley wrote a story about his time in Iraq, which Curry then “Favorited” on Twitter. Crowley explained that this shows the kind of compassionate person she is.

Via e-mail, Crowley added, “Another big point [that inspired me to write this petition] is the theme of Bullying. I felt like Ann Curry was a victim of bullying, from NBC and her critics. It upset me that they hurt her feelings. And that is also a unifying theme with all the fans on the petition.”

EW reached out to Curry’s rep, but as of press time, had not heard back.

Read more:

Ann Curry and where ‘The Today Show’ should go from here

‘Today’ show’s awkward Ann Curry gaffe — PHOTO

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