Lost letters from Vietnam finally return home

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WACH) -- Heartfelt letters of a South Carolina soldier who wrote about surviving combat and was later killed in Vietnam are finally reaching his family, during a ceremony Saturday at Memorial Park in Columbia.

Members of the 101st Airborne Division are presenting letters from Army Sgt. Steve Flaherty to his family.

Many gathered for the ceremony including family, friends, and former classmates of Sgt. Steven Flaherty.

The 22-year-old Flaherty was killed in Vietnam in 1969 before he could mail the letters. The Vietnamese took the letters after Flaherty's his death. They were turned over to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last month in exchange for a Vietnamese soldier's diary.

Flaherty's body was returned home for burial after his death.

Defense Department officials learned about the letters earlier this year and contacted family members.