PHILADELPHIA (CBS)– During a turbulent time of loss, one Delaware family found an unexpected silver lining.
On Tuesday, 95-year-old Robert Barnett Jr., a World War II veteran, passed away.
A day later, his son, Dr. Thomas Barnett of Dover, Delaware, gained something special.
“Seeing a letter he wrote to me, a beautiful short letter, was just amazing,” Barnett said. “It brought a lot of closure.”
Tucked away in a pocket of his father’s old military uniform was a handwritten note from May 19, 2012.
The family had pulled the uniform from storage to bring to the wake and funeral this weekend in Oyster Bay, New York.
“Dear Tom,” it read. “I wore this uniform from December 1944-45. Graduating with Pilotwings was a highlight for me. I hope your grandchildren will enjoy it. Love, Dad.”
And that love for his family could only be matched by the love of his country.
“He kept his uniform in perfect shape. It really meant a lot to him,” he said.
Second Lieutenant Robert “Bob” Barnett Jr. served as pilot in the Army Air Corps during World War II.
“He loved life so it’s hard to let go,” the younger Barnett said. “He is an American hero, he is my hero…the hero of our family.”
It’s a special bond between father and son.
“We’d visit and he’d touch me and say, ‘I gotcha last’ or hit my car and say, ‘I gotcha last” and I’d stop the car, run up behind him, touch him and jump back in the car,” Barnett said. “I think now, he’s ‘got me’ last.”
Barnett Jr. leaves behind 10 children, 29 grandchildren, and 50 great-grandchildren.