A soldier's letter to his infant daughter was finally received more than six decades after it was written.
Peggy Eddington-Smith, 69, of Dayton, Nev., received a letter that was written by her father, Pfc. John Eddington, in early 1944 along with his purple heart on Saturday.
Eddington wrote the letter shortly before going overseas to fight in World War II. He died in Italy in June 1944 and never had the chance to meet his daughter.
The letter and Eddington's purple heart were recovered by Donna Gregory of Arnold, Mo., in a family box of World War II memorabilia more than a decade ago. For the past 12 years Gregory searched for the elusive Peggy so that she could deliver Eddington's heartfelt letter to his daughter.
Eventually this year Gregory started to use Facebook to branch out past Missouri and see if she could find the right Peggy. Through friends and the social networking site, Gregory finally found Peggy Eddington-Smith.
When Gregory reached Eddington-Smith to tell her about the letter, the 69-year-old great-grandmother was stunned. She had no idea the letter existed.
"My mom didn't tell me much about my dad," Smith told The Associated Press. "I think she was just distraught. She was so much in love with him. I learned as a young girl not to bring it up because she would just get so upset."
After a search of more than a decade, Gregory's long quest came to a close on Saturday when she met Eddington-Smith. In a ceremony at a local high school, Gregory read the letter to Eddington-Smith for the first time before presenting her with Eddington's purple heart.
"I'll always love you very much," Gregory read from the letter. "You and your sweet mother are always on my mind each day and night."
Before the ceremony started Gregory admitted she would be emotional throughout the event.
"I've cherished all of this for a very long time," Gregory told the AP. "I've waited for the finale of this journey for over a decade."