‘A real miracle’: WWII vet searches years for girl who wrote letter of thanks; finally gets wish in surprise of a lifetime

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(Photo Credit: Vitalia Senior Residences)

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio (WJW) — There have been many miracles in Frank Grasberger’s life.

The World War II veteran made it back from combat alive during the Battle of the Bulge. He’s survived three heart attacks. And he has a wife and children who are all healthy.

The latest miracle happened last month in a conference room at Vitalia Senior Residences in Strongsville — in the form of a 21-year-old Army National Guard reserve.

Twelve years ago, that reserve, DeShauna Priest, then 9, wrote Grasberger a letter of thanks for his service, which he still carries in his pocket. He’s been searching for her ever since.

And thanks to an employee at Vitalia and social media, the two were finally able to meet in what he calls his latest miracle in life.

“You’re not the girl,” he exclaimed when she walked into the room. “Don’t make me cry, please. Honest to God. Oh, I love you so much. I really do. You don’t know how long…I pray every night with this thing, I really do. This is a Godsend, it really is.”

That wasn’t the only surprise. Priest pulled out a card Grasberger sent her as a thank-you and that she’s kept all these years.

“You wrote me that,” she told him as the tears flowed.

Priest’s letter was part of a batch sent by her third-grade class in 2009. Grasberger received it on his way home from an honor flight in Washington D.C. When he read it, he was so touched that he’s kept it close at hand ever since.

His wife, Dolores, contacted Priest’s school and sent her the card, thanking her and telling her about Grasberger’s life and military service. But they were never able to find her and meet her in person.

When Vitalia resident services director, Jill Pawloski, learned of the story, she turned to social media and was able to finally find her.

When Priest got the message from Pawloski, she was emotional herself. Her mother kept the card she’d received in a memory box, and she still has it.

“I just started crying, I had to go and tell my mom,” she said.

Priest and Grasbergers got to know each other and catch up after their surprise reunion. And they plan to keep in touch from now on.

During the reunion, Grasberger recounted all the miracles he’s experienced in his life, capped off with the surprise of a lifetime.

“And now I met the girl that signed me the letter…and that is a real miracle,” he said. “That really is.”

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