This Army Still Seeks to Find the Lost

SEEKING THE LOST–Major Leslie Peacock, director of the Territorial Missing Persons Department.

Major Leslie Peacock, territorial Missing Persons director, and her staff work every day to bring families together. A recent triumph comes from Burley, Idaho. The following story was excerpted from an article by Margi Owens of the South Idaho Press.

Robert Carrick, his wife and family recently had a heart-warming reunion with his mom, Patricia Hawkins, thanks to the Salvation Army sleuths.

Robert had not seen nor spoken to his mother since he was 22 months old. In August, they spoke on the phone–but the reunion was not complete without a visit.

Carrick and his wife had started planning to make that happen, when the employees of Ridley’s market, where he is produce manager, organized a raffle to raise the money to fly his mother to Burley.

When they called the owner of the market to explain their project and see if he would like to donate something, Jerry Ridley bought the ticket himself. The money raised by the raffle was given to Carrick to use for his Mom’s visit.

On November 22, she boarded a plane to meet her long-lost son. “The closer the trip got, the less I slept at night,” said Patricia from Carrick’s home. “The excitement was overwhelming.”

Hawkins explained that she had almost given up hope of ever finding her children. “I was at the point of giving up, when the letter from The Salvation Army came with my Social Security check. It only said, though, that a family member was trying to find me. The letter didn’t say who it was.”

Sitting on the couch, holding onto Carrick’s hand, Patricia told what it was like to discover that the family member was her son.

“My friends thought I was going to have a heart attack,” she continued. “I jumped up and down and screamed. I just couldn’t believe it!”

She describes her experience as “dreamlike.” She said, “I still can’t believe that this has all happened, and that I am here.”

The family went to Salt Lake City to meet the plane. The boys had never been to a big airport. The plane landed, and the moment of reunion finally arrived. “I knew her as soon as I saw her,” Carrick said. “I just knew it was her.” Amidst the hugs and tears, introductions were made and the catching up on missing years began.

In her quiet voice, sprinkled with a Southern accent, Patricia expressed the emptiness of a life without her children. “I’ve thought about them every day.” Emotion from the heart surfaced once again as she said, “I wish I could go back and do those years over again.”

Carrick and Patricia have vowed to start from now and have the life both of them have always wanted. He says the problems of his past and unresolved issues have vanished.

“Now, I want to live until I’m 80,” Patricia said.

“We will get out the pictures and fill in the missing pieces this week,” said Carrick. “Tomorrow, Mom is coming to Ridley’s to meet everyone there.”

The Carrick boys, Tyson, 6, and Ian, 4, bonded instantly with their new-found Grandma. “They are doing really well and they all get along just great,” said Juanita of the visit so far.

“It is going to be really tough for all of us when she has to go back to Mississippi.”

Both express their thanks to Ridley’s and to The Salvation Army, who made it all possible.

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