WACO, Texas (KWTX) Tex Gross discovered his biological family after a sending his DNA sample to an ancestry website.
Photo by Tyler Bouldin
He could have never known he had a cousin who was doing the same.
But now that they've connected through the website he's provided them with a piece of their family they thought they lost forever.
Tex's father died in World War II before he was born and no one even realized the young sailor had any children.
James Kale Howard joined the U.S. Navy on December 8, 1941, one day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
The U.S.S. Neosho survived that attack.
James could never know he would die on that fuel ship during the Battle of the Coral Sea months later, in May of 1942.
But before he left Texas there was a secret romance
Tex said, "apparently Jamie and my mother had a two month, two week, two day or two hour love affair. I was conceived before he shipped out and I was born 5 months after he was killed in battle."
Fast forward to now.
Tex and his new found cousin Layne Averyt iof College station are putting together the puzzle of pictures.
Their fathers were brothers, Jack and Jamie Howard.
There were 5 siblings all together.
Jamie and Jessie died in World War II.
All these revelations have come since they first made contact last summer, and Layne invited Tex to her home in College Station to meet some of his cousins.
Some cousins gave Tex keepsakes like their grandfather's wedding ring, and his father Jamie's Purple Heart and death certificate.
And the holidays brought a grand reunion at Tex's Dallas home, newly discovered relatives were stunned by their shared features.
Layne remembers well the blessing before lunch that December day.
She said, "I was just sitting in that living room thinking about our grandparents and all of our parents who are now gone and just looking around that room thinking what a big deal this was, and how happy they would be that we were all together."
So what about the young woman at the other end of this secret romance?
Her name was Anette Johnson and she lived in Luling, Texas.
She passed away in 1970 but she'd been married and had two other children, Tex's half brothers Claude and John.
They've had a chance to meet too.
All this family stretched out across time and space and fate.
But they were connected because two people wanted answers about their pasts, and they both had open hearts.
Layne said, "having this new Tex, it's been a gift to all of us."
There are a multitude of ancestry websites online.
Many require your DNA using something a simple as a saliva sample.
And you don't have to agree to meet new relatives.
But Tex is glad he did, and the story isn't over for him.
He's meeting more relatives from his biological mother's side of the family and attending a reunion in April.
We'll be sure to update you then.