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Veteran's discovered headstone returned to daughter 30 years after death

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BAKER – It was a reunion one Baker woman never expected. On Sunday, Ruth Stearns-LaCompte gained a piece of her father, who died thirty years ago, that she never knew existed, his headstone.

1LT Parley Stearns passed away in Texas in 1989, after serving for the US Army in WWII.

“He was proud having been in the Army,” said Ruth.

Thirty years ago, Ruth says her family cremated her father. But what she didn't know is that her mom also made a headstone for him.

“I was not aware that it even existed,” said Ruth.

New property owners in Texas where her mother and father lived discovered the headstone and called authorities. It only took two weeks for the Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars and Louisiana VFW to work together to find Ruth, the last surviving family member.

To honor 1Lt. Stearns, the two agencies held a ceremony in the VFW post in Baker.

“We're here for a reason, and it’s the right reason. It’s the right thing to do,” said LA VFW State Commander, Michael Carroll. “It’s our duty as people of this great nation to ensure that everyone who has given service is not forgotten.”

Ruth, getting emotional during the ceremony says she’s thankful VFW members took the time to honor her father.

“I expected to be really touched. The number of people who came from very far away is so impressive. I'm very proud of them to do that for him,” she said.

Ruth has a brother resting at Port Hudson National Cemetery. That’s where she’s hoping to place her father’s headstone as well.


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