Peggy Eddington-Smith never met her dad, a US soldier killed in Italy during World War II. But yesterday, she finally got to read a three-page letter that he wrote just before shipping out to his "darling" baby daughter who hadn't even been born yet, reports the AP. "I love you with all my heart and soul forever and forever," wrote Pfc. John Eddington in 1944, adding that "your mother and daddy ... are going to give you everything we can." He asks her to "always treat your mother right. You have the sweetest mother on the Earth."
How Eddington-Smith got the letter is a tale in itself. A woman in St. Louis named Donna Gregory found it in a box 14 years ago, along with Eddington's dog tags, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart. She spent years searching and finally tracked down Eddington-Smith in Nevada. Vets' groups and other supporters helped her get there for yesterday's tearful handover ceremony. (Gregory writes about her discovery and the subsequent hunt at CarsonNow.) "He poured out his heart to me, and a lot of men don't put that kind of emotion in writing," says Eddington-Smith, now 69. "I'm just overwhelmed by everything." One last tidbit: Her mom never remarried. "Her only comment was that she found the perfect man and will never again find the perfect man."