Men and women who choose to join the armed services to fight for our country sacrifice many things. Not only are they risking their own lives, but they’re also sacrificing their family, friends, homes, and ultimately, their sanity. This man was a soldier during the Vietnam War, and just when he felt like giving up, he was given a letter that would help keep him alive.
John Metzler was a 23-year-old Army helicopter sniper who was sent overseas to fight in the Vietnam War.
Every single day that he was over there, John was consumed with fear that it was going to be his last day on this Earth. One day, John received a letter that gave him a bit of hope in a world full of chaos and destruction.
The letter didn’t come from a family member waiting for John’s safe return. In fact, the letter came from a complete stranger.
As a part of a classroom excitement, a 6th grader at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and School in Hollywood, Florida, DonnaCaye Ludemann, wrote John a letter for the holidays.
John received the letter in 1970, but it meant much more to him than just a friendly hello.
In the letter, DonnaCaye wrote: “Dear Serviceman, I’m a student at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and School. I want to give my sincere thanks for going over to war to fight for us … The class hopes you will be able to come home …” These words may be simple, but they changed John’s perspective.
Only a soldier truly understands what it’s like to be caught up in the middle of a war.
They have to face death every single day and live with the things that they’ve had to go through for the rest of their lives. It’s a sad fact that many soldiers don’t ever make it back home, and many that do come back, don’t come back the same.
John is 71-years-old now, but he still thinks about the letter that the little girl wrote to him.
He keeps the letter framed inside of his home in Wendell, Idaho. To John, the letter was more than a nice gesture, it gave him the strength to survive the war so he could safely make it back home to his loved ones.
John decided that he wanted to reach out to the little girl who touched his life in such an intense way.
John recruited the help of his family members, and the internet, and was started his search to locate the little girl. Well, she wasn’t exactly a little girl anymore.
According to Karma Metzler Fitzgerald, she wasn’t able to locate DonnaCaye, but she had something up her sleeve.
Karma did, in fact, locate DonnaCaye, but she wanted to surprise John by flying DonnaCaye out to Idaho to meet John. Would John be happy to meet DonnaCaye after so much time had passed?
DonnaCaye was more than excited to meet the man that she had written to 48 years ago.
She remembers that she took the school writing project very seriously. “I was amazed that I could have the opportunity to write to a serviceman and maybe make his life a little simpler for a couple of minutes,” she remembered.
Even as a child DonnaCaye understood that the soldiers needed support from the people they were fighting for.
Luckily, after speaking to Karma, DonnaCaye agreed to fly to Idaho to meet John. After 48 years of waiting, he was finally going to meet the woman who was there for him in his desperate time of need.
After years of not knowing the stranger that helped him through the hardest time of his life, John was finally able to meet DonnaCaye.
After realizing that DonnaCaye was actually standing right in front of him, John immediately embraced the woman who gave him the strength that he needed to survive. DonnaCaye never expected that she would be remembered by the serviceman she wrote a letter to in the 6th grade, but after this, there’s no mistaking that she would never be forgotten.