HEMPHILL, Texas (CBS Houston) – In 2005, Marine Lance Cpl. Fred Maciel died in Iraq. His fellow Marines wrote messages on an American flag as a tribute to their fallen comrade. But the flag somehow never made it back to his family.
It ended up at a flea market in Hemphill, where Lanie Brown and her husband Brown saw it. They immediately recognized its importance.
“We realized it was a flag intended for a fallen Marine,” Lanie Brown told KPRC-TV. “We knew we had to take it home with us.”
About two dozen messages were written on the flag, including “We’ll always remember the sacrifice you made,” and “Thank you for being who you were…Rest in peace.”
Lanie Brown says they asked the seller about the price. “She said because it had writing on it we could have it for $5,” she said. “We’d have paid whatever she asked for it. It’s priceless.”
The Browns told the station they searched the Internet for Maciel’s family, and contacted the Marine’s mother.
“I never knew it existed and here is this flag, in a flea market over two hours away from me,” Patsy Maciel said. “Nobody knows how it got there.”
They will all meet in person at Maciel’s gravesite on Saturday in Humble, when the Marine’s mother will finally get the tribute flag.
“I can’t wait to read what they wrote,” said Maciel. That’s my son and I’m proud of my son.”
The Browns raised a son and have a son-in-law who served in the Marines. Their son-in-law’s tour in Iraq coincided with Maciel’s, though the two never met.
“When you’re a Marine mom or Marine dad, all other Marine moms and dads are your brothers and sisters, and all Marine kids are your kids, too,” said Brown.
Patsy Maciel told KPRC-TV that it will be like a part of her son is coming home.
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