Karen Smith from Shelton, Wash., was shocked when she opened a package and found a red velvet pouch containing the dog tags of U.S. Army veteran Randal L. Irwin, who died last year, and a small inscribed urn.
Smith said the mix-up happened after the original package was damaged and then packed into a new box at a post office.
"I read 'Dad' and the dates on it, and I went 'Oh my God,'" said Smith, who comes from a military family.
Without an address or letter, Smith only had the information on the dog tags to go by in her quest to get the package to its rightful recipient.
"I don't know why it came to me," said Smith, who was determined to get the wayward package sent from hundreds of miles away back to its rightful owner.
"That's ashes in that urn, but it's still a human being in spirit," said Smith.
Last week Smith's efforts at last paid off. She returned Irwin's ashes to his daughter, Carole Irwin, of San Diego, who had sent the precious cargo to her brother. The box containing the urn and dog tags had fallen off a truck and was repacked with the wrong address.
"I'm so fortunate that it got into the right hands," Carole Irwin told Fox 5 News in San Diego. " If it was anyone else, they could have just said, 'Oh whatever, I'm just going to go throw it away.'"