Frank Grasberger, a 95-year-old World War II veteran who served in the Battle of the Bulge, got a letter on an Honor Flight home from Germany 12 years ago.
DaShauna Priest, a 9-year-old girl, included a pencil and crayon artwork of an American flag and a soldier’s helmet with flowers coming out of it in the message. The youngster thanked Frank for “saving us from Hitler” and providing “freedom for us” in the letter.
The soldier is so impressed by the letter that he never leaves home without it. He folds the piece of paper neatly and tucks it inside his shirt pocket or beneath the seat of his wheelchair.
“I couldn’t believe a youngster could write a letter about war,” the veteran told Jill Pawloski, the resident services director at Vitalia Senior Residence in Strongsville, Ohio, where Frank presently resides.
The letter was written for a writing assignment at Lorain’s Irving Elementary School. Frank answered with a letter of his own, which he forwarded to the school in the hopes of connecting with the author. He didn’t get any proof that DaShauna had gotten it, though.
Frank and his wife, Delores, attempted to obtain the family’s information, but school officials stated that they were not permitted to do so. The school eventually closed.
Frank lost up hope of ever locating the girl, but he treasured her letter.
Delores explained, “When he has that letter with him, he feels a feeling of faith, trust, and love.”
Frank shared the note with Jill this summer. She saw how important it was for Frank and Delores to learn what had happened to DaShauna, so she went on the hunt.
“I looked on Facebook, but there were over 200 ladies with the same name,” Jill revealed. “I tried Instagram, but it yielded fewer results — one lady who appeared to be around my age and resided in Ohio – so I took a chance.”
She received a response a few days later—it was the letter’s author, and she lived only an hour away in Sandusky. What’s even better? She is now a member of the military!
Bonnie, Frank’s daughter, was called by Jill to organize the surprise visit. Frank was informed that he was being interviewed by a local television station about the letter in order to assist him in identifying who authored it. DaShauna, on the other hand, was planning to pay him a visit that day.
DaShauna entered the room, dressed in a military uniform and carrying flowers. Frank was taken aback by the young woman’s reaction.
When she walked in, he yelled, “You’re not the girl!” “Please don’t make me weep.” God-honesty. Oh, how I love you. I truly believe that. You have no idea how long it will take… I actually do pray with this item every night. This is a blessing in disguise.”
When Frank showed DaShauna the letter she had sent all those years ago, the now 21-year-old was surprised by her own surprise: Frank’s reply, which her mother had kept hidden in a memory box.
“I had looked for him for years as well, but had never found him,” DaShauna stated. “I didn’t even know whether he was still alive, so I simply sat and wept when I got the news from the senior residence.” It meant a lot to me to know he was seeking for me as well.”
The three of them spent three hours telling stories and getting to know one another. DaShauna, who now serves in the Ohio National Guard, has long wondered if that third-grade assignment had any bearing on her choice to join the military.
DaShauna has always admired those in uniform since she was a youngster.
She explained, “I simply wanted to be a part of that kind of devotion and service.” “I believe that’s why I took the task so seriously.” And look what it got me this time, a new family!”
Despite the fact that they have only met once, Frank immediately considers Emily his “third daughter.” He’s looking forward to seeing her again and seeing DaShauna’s six-month-old baby.
For the time being, they intend to spend Veteran’s Day, November 11th, together.
To discover more about Frank and DaShauna’s touching tale, watch the video below.