A Purple Heart for Peggy

Associated Press/Donna Gregory

Fourteen years ago Donna Gregory was helping her then husband clean out his grandparents’ home when she found a box with World War II medals and memorabilia.

It included a letter to a woman named Eddington that informed her that her son, John, had been killed. There was also a purple heart, and a letter to his daughter named Peggy, who hadn’t yet been born.

“It’s basically a soldier who is pouring out his heart on paper to his daughter,” Gregory, 46, tells the Associated Press. “It’s a letter written so she would know how much her daddy loved her.”

Over all this time, she’s called every Eddington in Missouri, trying to find the right Peggy. She visited libraries. Nothing worked.

Then she turned to the best place for searches like this: Facebook.

She found her in Nevada. Peggy Smith never knew much about her father but she’s about to meet him through his last letter.

This week, Gregory, her sister and a friend left St. Louis, accompanied by about a dozen motorcyclists from the Patriot Guard. Along the way, different groups of riders will pick up the motorcade.

On Saturday, a parade will begin in Carson City and make the 15-mile trek to Dayton, where Smith will be presented the medal and letter in a ceremony at the high school.

And we’ll find out what’s in the letter. Gregory wouldn’t reveal it. She said the soldier’s daughter deserves to read it first.