Thursday 14 November 2013

Long Lost Letter

American servicemen in Italy during WWII courtesy

Sixteen million Americans served in World War II.  Four hundred thousand died in battle, including John Eddington, the father of a Nevada woman who would never know him.  It would be almost 70 years before she would hear from him -- in the form of a long, lost letter.

                                            This was Pfc. John Farrell Eddington's obituary. He died three weeks after the birth of his daughter

Twelve years ago, a St. Louis, Missouri woman name Donna Gregory was helping her husband's grandparents clean out their Arnold, Missouri home when they came upon a mysterious box.  Dusting it off, they found the following items inside:  a letter, a high school diploma, a draft card, and a Purple Heart.  There was also a message from the U.S. War Department announcing the death of the soldier who had written the letter.  

Reunited: Donna Gregory read from the emotional letter sent by Pfc. John Eddington to his newborn daughter. Gregory's voice cracked with emotion as she read, bringing tears to Eddington-Smith and many in the crowd of about 150

                                          Donna Gregory courtesy

Donna embarked on a years-long search to find the relatives of the fallen soldier.  Thanks to the Internet, she was finally able to track down Mrs. Peggy Eddington-Smith, a Walmart employee in Nevada who was stunned to hear about the momentos from her father.  

Donna took a road trip from St. Louis to Nevada this past September accompanied by members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a group who attends memorials for fallen soldiers.  In Nevada, a World War II veteran presented Mrs. Eddington-Smith with her father's purple heart, tears visibly falling down the woman's cheeks as she thought of the father she never knew.

Emotional: Peggy Eddington-Smith receives a flag in honor of her father, who she never met, in Dayton, Nevada, on Saturday. Pfc. John Eddington died in World War II three weeks after her birth

Peggy was able to read the letter from her father which told her that he loved her and that she should treat her mother right.  Only a few months after penning the letter in 1944, John Eddington died in Italy.  Peggy once asked her mother why she never remarried and she said it was because she had found the perfect man in Peggy's father.  She passed away in 1997.  

Pfc. John Farrell Eddington and his wife, Helen, are pictured on their wedding day

Helen & John Eddington on their wedding day courtesy

Peggy tucked away her box of precious momentos, a lasting testament to her father, a war hero.  And Donna headed back over the mountains to her home in St. Louis, her mission accomplished.  Thank you, Mr. Eddington, for your sacrifice!

Honored: Peggy Eddington-Smith received her father's medals during the ceremony, such as this Purple Heart. Earlier she received a heartfelt letter from the soldier, professing his love for his newborn daughter

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