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Patsy Maciel s son will always be her hero, Fred told me he was born to be a Marine, she said holding his picture close to her heart.

Right out of Spring High in 2003, he signed up and went straight to Iraq.

He served two tours, then tragedy, January 26, 2005, she recalls.

It was a helicopter crash near Fallujah, Iraq, 31 Marines dead including Fred Maciel.

His mother Patsy received his effects, His blue suits. Combat boots. He collected these little spoons, she said.

For nine-and-a-half years she was left with just those things, some pictures, and her grief.

That changed a few weeks ago when she got a strange message from someone in Beaumont sent to her on Facebook.

It was followed up by a phone call, She said I have something of Fred s I want to give you, Patsy remembered.

Catie Shafer says her father Walter Brown, himself a former Marine, found the flag in a Beaumont Flea Market.

Knew immediately that it was something special was will in to pay the 15 bucks initially asked for the well worn stars and stripes, but the sales woman had other ideas, You know this has writing on it. He said yeah. Just give me five bucks, said Maciel.

On the well worn stars and stripes are hand written messages which are final tributes from a Marine Platoon to their lost brother.

Tributes delayed nine and a half years, I can t wait to read what they wrote. That is my son, Maciel says.

No one knows how the flag ended up in Beaumont, or where it has been all this time.

It is in good hands now, the daughter of the man who found it told Patsy Maciel, I could have mailed it to you and put it in a box, but I wanted to meet you. The mother of this marine that gave his life. That was awesome that these people go out of their way to give me this flag.

They ve seen it only in pictures, but that will change Saturday at her son's grave, when they will meet for the first time, and touch the flag that is more than just a symbol.

It is kind of like a piece of my son. It sounds crazy but that is a piece of my son coming back to me and I love them for that.

Fred Maciel will always be his mother s hero.

Finally complete.

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