Her Husband Vanishes, Decades She Learns the Truth

Peggy Harris and her husband Billie, of Vernon, Texas, were married back in the 1940s. The happy couple were only married for six weeks when Billie was deployed by the United States to fight in World War II.

Lt. Billie Harris left for a Nazi-occupied Northern France on July 17, 1944, and Peggie never heard from her husband again.

There was a lot of confusion when it came to Billie’s fate. Originally, she believed her husband was killed in action. Then, she was told that her husband was alive and coming home. After that she was once again told that her husband had died. The confusion over her husband’s status was a burden Peggy would carry all her life.

But as time wore on, she began to believe for certain that her husband had died during the war. She had to come to terms with the fact that she would never see him again after their fleeting six weeks of marriage.

Peggy and Billie in the 1940s.CBS News

It seemed official; it was unlikely Peggy would ever see Billie again. Despite this, she chose to stay faithful to her husband.

“Billie was married to me all of his life,” Peggy told CBS News. “So I chose to be married to him for all of my life.”

After waiting for months, then years, then decades, Peggy decided to clear up the confusion once and for all. So she wrote to her local congressmen in Texas, hoping to get a confirmed word on her husband’s status. She was finally told that Billie was marked MIA (missing in action).

Still, with all the communication errors, Peggy wasn’t satisfied with this “final” answer. Neither was cousin, Alton Harvey, who grew up with Billie.

“Didn’t feel right that he just went off to war and never came back,” Alton said. “We needed to know what had happened to him.”

So the family members decided to take matters into their own hands and begin a private investigation. All it took was a simple request of Billie’s military records to find the final truth about Peggy’s long, lost love. They discovered that Billie was actually buried in the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy, France.

Although it took 68 years for Peggy to finally learn her husband’s fate, she knew that he was at rest somewhere. And what’s more, he died a celebrated hero.

Road sign honoring Billie Harris.CBS News

As it turned out, Billie was a fighter pilot and he was shot down over a small town outside of Normandy, called Les Ventes. Despite his injured state, Billie controlled the plane just enough in his dying moments to avoid the town and save the lives of hundreds of civilians.

The main street in Les Ventes is now called “Billie D. Harris Place” and he is celebrated in this town as a hero to this day.

After learning of her husbands heroic death, Peggy visits Les Ventes and spends time with those who honor Billie regularly. She also sends flowers to Billie’s grave at least 10 times a year and she visits Billie’s final resting place. According to officials at the cemetery, Peggy is the last widow who still visits her husbands’ grave.

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