WWII Soldier's Letter and Purple Heart Finally Make it to Daughter

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RENO, Nev. (AP) - A World War II soldier's heartfelt letter to his daughter has finally reached her hands, seven decades after it was written.

Peggy Eddington-Smith was presented the letter penned by her father, Pfc. John Eddington, as well as his Purple Heart during an emotional ceremony Saturday in her hometown of Dayton, 40 miles southeast of Reno.

The father she never met wrote the three-page letter shortly after she was born and shortly before he died in Italy in June 1944.

Donna Gregory of St. Louis found his World War II memorabilia in a box 14 years ago while helping her then-husband clean out his grandparents' home in Arnold, Mo., a St. Louis suburb.

Eddington, who was from Leadwood, Mo., wrote that while his daughter may not see him for some time, he wanted her to know that she and her "sweet mother are always" on his mind and he loved them.

Gregory read the letter during the ceremony, bringing tears to Eddington-Smith and many soldiers and others in the crowd of about 150.

The 69-year-old Eddington-Smith says the letter made her feel closer than ever to her father and she's grateful for Gregory's extensive effort to track her down.