When Peggy graduated from high school, World War II was in full swing on the other side of the world. She decided that she should do something to help, so she left her home in Vernon, Texas. She traveled to Atlus Air Force Base in Oklahoma. There, she started working as an electrical mechanic for various instruments. She was the only female mechanic on the base, so she caught the attention of many men on the base.
A General’s Son
One of the men who was impressed by Peggy was one of the Generals on the base. He suggested that Peggy write to his son, Billie Harris. She felt strange writing to someone that she didn’t know and she let the General know. Shortly after, she got a letter from Billie through his father. Peggy was hesitant to answer at first, but finally, she did. Her idea was to dissuade him from wanting a relationship with her.
Peggy didn’t think that she and Billie would ever have a future together. She told him that she loved opera and she listened to it on Saturday afternoons. She was sure that it would turn him off, but he wrote back. Next, she wrote to him that she memorized poetry, and he wrote back saying that he did as well. Every time Peggy told him something that she was sure would turn him off, it made him like her even more. Finally, she gave in a bit and agreed to meet with him when he came to visit his father. She didn’t expect too much, and she told him not to expect much either.
When the two met in person, they knew immediately that they were soul mates. Their courtship lasted for months, and soon, they were engaged. They didn’t have a long engagement, and in 1943, they got married. Shortly after getting married, they found out that Billie was being transferred to Florida and from there, he would be shipped out to Europe. Peggy traveled to Florida so that she could spend as much time as possible with her new husband.
When the Germans shot down a plane of aviator pilots, Billie was called to Europe early. When they said goodbye to one another, Peggy realized that it could have been the last time they would see one another. When he left, Peggy was sent back to Texas. She was told that she couldn’t reveal where her husband was because there were spies all over the U.S. trying to find out where the pilots were being sent.
When Billie was stationed in the UK, he flew in between 60 and 100 successful missions. Due to the number of missions he completed, he was allowed to head home. He couldn’t wait to get back to his wife. While waiting for his boat, he was told that the wounded soldiers had first priority and there was no room for him. He would have to wait. He tried to stay positive, knowing that he would be home soon. He wrote a letter to Peggy to let her know about the delay.
Billie decided that he couldn’t just sit around waiting for the next boat, so he offered to go on another mission. Peggy was home waiting for her husband, and when months passed with no word, she was anxious. She finally heard from the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, and they told her that Billie had returned to the United States. She was thrilled. Finally, she would be reunited with her husband. When weeks turned to months, panic set in again.
Peggy and Billie’s father were very worried about Billie. They worried that he was sent back to the U.S. seriously wounded, and lost his memory. They reached out to the Red Cross, who started an investigation to his whereabouts. She received a letter saying that Billie was missing in action dated July 7th. She thought something was strange because she received a letter from Billie on the same day.
Refusing To Give Up
Peggy refused to give up on her husband. For years, she hoped that somehow, he was alive somewhere. When speaking to CBS News about the ordeal, she said, “Billie was married to me all of his life, and I choose to be married to him all of my life.” This was the reason why she never remarried.
Peggy and Billie’s cousin, Alton wouldn’t stop searching for Billie. They check the Arlington National Cemetery Archives, and they were told that it could take up to six weeks to get a reply. A few weeks later, Peggy got a phone call. She found out that a French woman from Les Ventes, France had also requested records. Peggy wanted to find out who the woman was, and she finally got her answers. The woman who sought the records was the mayor of the town because there, he was considered a hero. She found out that Billie had saved countless lives in the city before his plane was shot down. They were having a parade in his honor, and they asked Peggy to attend. Wife Sends Husband Off To War But He Never Returns. 68 Years Later She Gets a Knock on the Door.