An 11 year old Columbus girl wanted to do something special to support the troops fighting overseas, so she wrote a letter to a soldier in Afghanistan. On Father's Day, she found out just how much that simple gesture meant to the sergeant who received it.
The story began over six months ago when Katie Grace Hartley felt so inspired by the work of the armed service-members, she just had to let one of them know. She wrote a Christmas card to an unknown army sergeant fighting in Kandahar Province.
"It said that she was praying for him and she was proud of him and she hoped that one day maybe she could meet him. And later on, I heard that because she didn't hear anything back, she thought that maybe the soldier had been killed there and her letter never made it," says Nancy Bell, the sergeant's wife.
It turned out that soldier was alive and well, but the timing of the troop withdrawals caused mail to be delayed and even shut down altogether.
"We were informed by higher command that we were not receiving any further mail, due to our pushing out and returning to the states. And prior to leaving, I received her letter," says Sgt. Richard Gromek.
Immediately after he returned to Fort Benning, Sgt. Hromek got in touch with Katie's grandfather and set up a surprise appearance at her house.
"He said, 'I don't know how it got through, but it got through.' And he was so impressed, when he got back he went and told Nancy, 'I have got to go and meet this young lady,'" says Katie's grandfather.
Katie's reaction was priceless.
"I don't know how to explain it. I'm just very happy right now."