The mother of a fallen Marine received an unexpected gift from two strangers. They returned her son’s tribute flag almost ten years after his death.
Patsy Maciel of Houston, Texas, got a strange message on Facebook from a couple she didn’t know. They claimed they had something of her son’s and wanted to return it to her. It was the flag, inscribed with handwritten messages for her son, Fred, expressing remembrance and gratefulness. Patsy was stunned.
Fred had died in 2005 along with 30 other of his fellow soldiers when a helicopter crashed near Fallujah, Iraq. Patsy had been shipped Fred’s personal affects including his dress blue uniforms, combat boots and some souvenir spoons he had been collecting. She’d never heard of or seen a tribute flag.
Lanie and Walter Brown were out doing a little shopping at a flea market in Hemphill, Texas, roughly 170 miles from where Patsy lived. Tucked away in a vendor’s corner was the flag. Though they had no idea who Fred Maciel was, they realized the flag was a special find. Lanie knew that it was a flag meant for a fallen Marine and she just couldn’t leave it there. They scooped it up for $5, a deal because the flag had writing on it, they were told.
Once home, the couple started searching for the family of the fallen soldier. They felt compelled to act because they had an appreciation for what it stood for. Walter had himself been a Marine and the couple’s son and son-in-law are both currently Marines.
Lanie said as a Marine mom or dad, you feel a bond with all the other Marine parents out there. She understood what Fred’s mom must be feeling.
The couple connected with Patsy and the three have planned to meet this Saturday at Fred’s grave site. There, the Brown’s will return the tribute flag to Fred’s mom. Maciel is looking forward to reading the messages left for her son, who was just 20 when he was killed. She expressed deep gratitude at the gift the Browns are giving her. She described it as getting a small piece of her son back.