Chicago-area family reunited with father’s Navy uniform

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TUCSON, Ari.  (AP) -- Former Rep. Gabby Giffords and husband Mark Kelly reunited the daughter of World War II veteran with her father's long-lost uniform Friday, completing a lengthy effort to unravel the origins behind the suit.

Giffords' mother bought her the uniform at a thrift store in Arizona about seven years ago. A short effort to find the family of LeRoy James Vacovsky was unsuccessful, but Kelly searched again this year, this time finding Vacovsky's daughter in Illinois.

The reunion took place in the couple's Tucson home on Friday. Penny Welch and her husband, David Welch, had flown in from the Chicago area the day before to pick up the uniform and visit family nearby. Giffords was smiling and excited as Kelly handed over the uniform.

Welch launched a disappointing search for her father's uniform a decade ago. She never imagined it'd be in Arizona.

"I think I was just in shock. My heart was just full of joy to think that I actually did have that," Welch said.

Kelly said he wanted to honor a member of what he called the greatest generation.

On Monday, seven years to the day that Vacovsky died at the age of 81, Welch will take the aviation technician's uniform home.

"It's something nice we could do. I know if my grandfather's uniform was out there, I'd love to have it," Kelly said.

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