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34 Years in the Making - FOX 14 TV Joplin and Pittsburg News Weather Sports |

34 Years in the Making

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NEOSHO, MISSOURI -

Friday was a very special day for active duty army instructor Richard Clay Smith. He made the road trip to Neosho, Missouri for the first face to face reunion with the man who raised him, in almost 35 years.

"He stuck with me. A lot of people didn't. He did," said Smith about his stepfather.

John William Naylor is the stepfather who raised smith to be the man he is today. After turning 18, Smith enlisted in the military. Around the same time, Naylor divorced smith's mother. Life happened, and while the two have stayed in contact over the phone, they never physically crossed paths again, until Friday.

"It's a real joy to my heart to see something turn out good that I touched, that didn't fall apart and go to crap," joked Naylor.

The father and son exchanged sentimental gifts: priceless family hats.

"I was in Iraq and I was in the cavalry, so I got an army cavalry hat. Being that he pretty much raised me, I thought, 'I need to give that hat to him, because he earned it just as much as I did, by making me the man I am today,'" said Smith.

Naylor is Native American, and returned his stepson's generosity by giving him a traditional Cherokee headdress.

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