Sue Morse had put out a request for friends to send birthday wishes to her father and Purple Heart medal recipient Duane Sherman, expecting she would get maybe 160 cards.
Instead, he received over 50,000.
“I was amazed, shocked and appreciative,” Sherman told the Orange County Register. “All the good comments people made, it just brightened my day.”
Sherman’s wife of 57 years, Lois, died in 2011. His daughter told the Register the only mail her dad receives most days are just bills, and he’s outlived most of his friends.
“I wanted to him to feel special on his birthday," Morse said.
Sherman enlisted in the Navy shortly after Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. He was stationed aboard the U.S.S. Lamson, a destroyer that saw several battles in the Pacific.
He was hit by shrapnel when the Lamson was attacked by Kamikaze pilots on Dec. 7, 1944 and floated in a life raft with crewmates until they were rescued.
Ever since Morse put out her plea on Facebook, her father has received birthday cards and notes thanking him for his service from all 50 U.S. states and 10 countries.
Included in the fan mail are notes from elementary school students and prison inmates. The secretary of the Navy sent one. So did the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Ohio State University.
“It was very gratifying,” Sherman told the Register. “It was hard to believe.”
Since her father is legally blind, Morse has been reading the cards and letters out loud to her dad. She’s gotten through about 1,700 letters and plans to enlist the help of friends to get through the rest.
Morse told the Register she wants to respond to most of the letters, which are spread between her father’s home and a friend’s house. There are also bins that still need to be picked up at the post office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.