Woman to Get 70-Year-Old Letter From Dad She Never Met

Peggy Smith to receive her father's purple heart, and a letter sending his love

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 20, 2013 6:00 AM CDT | Updated Sep 20, 2013 8:04 AM CDT

(Newser) – John Eddington was about to deploy to Europe during World War II when he got some happy news: His wife had given birth to a baby girl. In a letter to his daughter, he wrote how much he loved her and hoped to see her, though he'd never get the chance; he died four months later, in June 1944, the AP explains. Fast forward nearly 70 years and that daughter, Peggy Smith, knows little of the father she never met, whose letter, unbeknownst to her, sat in a cardboard box 75 miles from Eddington's hometown of St. Louis. That is, until Donna Gregory stumbled upon it while cleaning out the home of her then-husband's grandparents. It remains unclear what connection they had to Eddington.

Hoping to return the letter, Gregory spent 14 years searching for Eddington's daughter until she found Smith using Facebook earlier this year. "It was an unforgettable moment," said Gregory, who describes the letter as "basically a soldier who is pouring out his heart on paper to his daughter. It's a letter written so she would know how much her daddy loved her." And the existence of the letter is all the sweeter because of how little Smith knows of her father. "My mom didn't tell me much ... 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." The letter, and Eddington's Purple Heart, which was also found in the box, will be returned in a ceremony tomorrow in Dayton, Nevada, where Smith lives. Click for more on the touching story.

Peggy and Kevin Smith of Dayton, Nev.
Peggy and Kevin Smith of Dayton, Nev.   (AP Photo/Courtesy Kevin Smith)
A wedding picture of Pfc. John Farrell Eddington and his wife, Helen.
A wedding picture of Pfc. John Farrell Eddington and his wife, Helen.   (AP Photo/Courtesy Kevin Smith)
The Purple Heart medal awarded to Pfc. John Farrell Eddington who was killed in action in Italy during World War II.
The Purple Heart medal awarded to Pfc. John Farrell Eddington who was killed in action in Italy during World War II.   (AP Photo/Courtesy Donna Gregory)
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