WEDDINGS

War Wedding Photo: Veteran Returns Enemy's Wedding Photo After 68 Years

12/07/2012 06:04 pm ET

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When soldiers were killed during World War II, it was customary to strip the bodies of their belongings. But it wasn't customary to return those personal items.

Howard Hensleigh, a 92-year-old army veteran from the Bay Area, bucked tradition when he returned a German soldier's wedding photo -- 68 years after he killed him.

Hensleigh told NBC Bay Area that he shot and killed Georg Reick in southern France in 1944. He took Reick's personal belongings, including photos of his wife, children and wedding, and put them in his scrapbook.

"I hate to admit it, but they don't end up with their watches or rings or anything else," Hensleigh said.

Earlier this year, Hensleigh was contacted by Jean Loup, a French writer interested in interviewing World War II veterans for a documentary. After hearing Hensleigh's story, Loup decided to help track down Reick's family in order to return the photos.

Loup mailed the photos to the mayor of Reick's hometown in Germany. The mayor recognized the groom and sent the photos to Reick's grandson, also named Georg Reick.

Hensleigh and young Georg Reick have exchanged emails, and Hensleigh said Reick appreciates the photos and has forgiven him for killing his grandfather.

"He realized that we were both soldiers and either one of us could have killed the other one," Hensleigh said.

Lost wedding photos are unfortunately not unusual, but Hensleigh joins others who have returned the misplaced memories. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, one woman even started a Facebook page to try and reunite lost photos with their owners.

Check out last weekend's real weddings in the slideshow below.

Real Weddings of the Week

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