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California woman returns dog tags to NJ widow

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A treasured piece of New Jersey man's past is now back with his family, thanks to a stranger who lives more than 3,000 miles away. (WPVI)

A treasured piece of New Jersey man's past is now back with his family, thanks to a stranger who lives more than 3,000 miles away.

When Linda Peiffer of Robbinsville opened the package from California and saw what was inside her heart just about stopped.

"Touching something that belonged to him. It's still like I said I'm in shock," she said.

They are the dog tags her late husband Terry wore when he served in the Coast Guard during Vietnam.

Terry died in 2008 but he hasn't been forgotten by his family, or Navy veteran Kim Vincent of El Centro, CA.

She's the president of an American Legion Auxiliary and found Terry's dog tags while antiquing out west.

She bought them, tracked down his family, and made it her mission to return the lost tags to Linda.

"It's been quite a journey and it's been really sad for me, when I dropped them in the mail last week, because I feel like we connected even though Terry's not here," Vincent said.

"She's an angel to me. Kim is an absolute angel with what she's trying to do," Linda said.

She has no idea how her husband's dog tags wound up in a California antique store. Terry did live there for a time, but she says he was always careful about his military memorabilia.

"Linda says having a reminder of her husband she can hold in her hand has been difficult... and wonderful.

Getting the dog tags was almost a message from him that I'm not coming back. I'm gone and it was time for me to move on.

"It's just very rewarding I was able to find the family," said Kim.

Back in California, Kim Vincent continues searching for families connected to other dog tags she's found.

"I want them to experience the happiness I experienced when I got them," she said.

Linda Peiffer says she'll wear Terry's dog tags for a while and eventually pass them on to his daughters and grandchildren.
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