A bittersweet letter, from a mystery boy, left an Oklahoma soldier searching for the child.
The letter, hand-written in pencil by a little boy, had a big, colorful “thank you” drawn at the end. That was the main purpose of the note, to thank a soldier for his or her service.
It read, in part, "Dear Soldier, thank you for everything you do. I have no idea who you are but I know you help us."
Then, in the middle of the letter, the child opens up about being the victim of bullying, "I get pushed around and get bullied. Do you have to be bullied?"
It was signed by a Matthew Smith.
Private First Class Dakota Kreps, an Oklahoma solider from Kiefer serving in the Middle East, is the one who opened the letter.
He instantly knew he had to try and find the author, but the letter didn't have a return address.
So Kreps shared it on Facebook, then someone sent it to News On 6’s Tess Maune who shared it as well, along with the News On 6 Facebook page. Within five hours of the post, Kreps and Smith were connected.
But here's where it gets interesting.
Smith wrote the letter more than 10 years ago while in a Rogers County elementary school, and for some reason it just made it overseas. Smith is now 20 years old. He’s doing well and has overcome some of the struggles he faced as a child.
PFC Kreps is just two years older, 22.
"When I read the letter and made it my mission to find him, I was not expecting to find someone around my age. I thought I was on the hunt for a young kid," Kreps said, "No matter the age, I am still glad we found him and let him know that I am there for him not matter what he’s going through."
Kreps says when he gets back to Oklahoma next year he and Smith are going to meet in person.
Smith is in a car club, and Kreps is a big fan of motorcycles. He says the two want to put together a car/bike show and cookout.
The letter came in care package from The Hugs Project, which gets thousands of letters from around the country each year. The director says it shouldn’t have taken 10 years for a letter to make it overseas.
She says it's possible the letter was mistakenly tucked away somewhere and just resurfaced. Another possibility, it just made it their office from another organization.
Regardless of how long it took to get in the hands of a soldier, both Kreps and Smith believe the letter ended up exactly where it was supposed to.