A couple was married for only six weeks when the husband went off to war and never returned. His wife decided to remain faithful to him forever and never remarried. It took her 60 years to decipher the mystery around her husband's disappearance.
Finding true love in this life is an indescribable feeling. It binds people together and helps them navigate through challenging times. Love emerges as a powerful force when everything else seems too far gone, rekindling hope amidst darkness and despair.
Peggy Harris and Billie D. Harris from Vernon, Texas, were fortunate enough to experience a once-in-a-lifetime love, but their story was filled with endless twists and turns and a puzzle that took more than six decades to solve.
[From left to right] Peggy Harris and Billie Harris. | Source: youtube.com/CBS News
THE CALL TO DUTY
In June 1944, General Dwight Eisenhower gave the final call for the allied invasion of Normandy, France. Several American soldiers were deployed to fight for France's liberation in the months ahead, and among them was First Lieutenant Billie.
Peggy and Billie were married for only six weeks when he went off to answer his call to duty. Like a devoted wife, Peggy waved her husband goodbye and wished him all the best in his endeavors.
As a First Lieutenant fighter pilot, Billie was called to help the allied forces wrest control from the Nazis. He fought courageously and embarked on a mission over Nazi-occupied northern France on July 17, 1944.
Lieutenant Billie Harris. | Source: YouTube.com/CBS News
A FAITHFUL WIFE
Tragically, Billie never returned from that mission. Peggy waited for years to hear from her husband, but there was no knock at the door, no telegram, and nothing definitive to explain what happened to him during World War II.
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But despite the lack of answers, she remained faithful to the love of her life and never remarried. "Billie was married to me all of his life, and I choose to be married to him all of my life," expressed Peggy.
THE CONFLICTING REPORTS
The reports from United States forces were utterly confusing and misleading. Initially, Billie was reported missing in action. Then, he was reported as alive and returning home. After that, Peggy received a letter that said he had been killed and buried at one cemetery.
It was followed by another letter that said he was buried at a different cemetery. Peggy was tired of all the conflicting reports, but she waited. Days turned into months, months became years, and years turned to decades, but there was no answer.
Eventually, she wrote to her congressman. Peggy repeatedly wrote to him, demanding answers about her husband's fate. In 2005, she received a letter from Congressman Mac Thornberry, who stated that Billie was still listed as "missing in action" in the National Archives.
"KILLED IN ACTION"
One more person wasn't satisfied with the congressman's answer and was determined to solve the mystery around Billie's disappearance. Soon afterward, Billie's cousin, Alton Harvey, began digging for information.
Harvey mentioned that it didn't sound right that his cousin went off to war and didn't return. So, he requested Billie's military records, and what he then discovered left him speechless.
It turned out Congressman Thornberry had never clearly checked the records like he claimed because Billie was listed as KIA "killed in action" in the National Registry. Moreover, the records stated that his grave was located in the American cemetery in Normandy, France.
A TRUE HERO
After learning the whereabouts of her late husband's grave, Peggy began visiting the cemetery, and according to the groundskeepers, she was the only remaining widow to see her spouse's grave.
Peggy sent flowers at least ten times a year when she couldn't drop by herself, making Billie's grave the most adorned one in Normandy. But there was still a lot that this army widow didn't know about.
Billie's plane had gone down in a small village of Les Ventes, France, and the village's main street was named after him. Surprisingly, the townspeople had been honoring Billie's sacrifice for their freedom every year since his plane was shot down.
Peggy Harris stand beside her late husband, Billie Harris's grave adorned with flowers. | Source: YouTube.com/CBS News
LOVED AND REMEMBERED
The villagers buried Billie with great respect and initially assumed that he was Canadian. In 2004 at the 60th commemoration of France's liberation, two French citizens, Valerie Quesnel and Mr. Huard discovered that Billie was American and shared this information with the U.S. officials.
After Harvey uncovered the mystery around Billi's disappearance and Peggy learned the whole story, she visited Les Ventes in June 2012. The townspeople told Peggy that her late husband maneuvered the aircraft so it wouldn't crash into the village and saved many lives.
The villagers considered Billie a hero and continued to pay homage to him several times a year. After over 60 years of waiting for her beloved husband, Peggy was relieved to know the complete story and proud of her late husband's selfless act of bravery.
Billie will forever be remembered by Peggy, the people of Les Ventes, and everyone else who reads this heart-touching story of sacrifice, honor, and love. Please share this story with your loved ones.
Here's another story that you might like, and it's about a soldier and lover who were forced to part during World War II and reunited 75 years later. Click here to read the whole story.