HOUSTON When Lance Cpl. Fred Maciel died in 2005 in Iraq, his fellow Marines signed a flag that was supposed to be given to his family, but somehow it got lost.
However, thanks to a Beaumont couple more than nine years later the flag finally made it home.
Maciel s mother, Patsy Maciel, wasn t expecting a ceremony. She wasn t expecting a salute from dozens of strangers.
They re here for my son. Look at them, she said.
On the flag are heartfelt messages written by his fellow Marines the tribute was meant to go to his family, but somehow it got lost until Walter Brown found it at flea market.
The lady just said, It s $5. She said, It has been written on you know that. I said, That s OK. I ll go ahead and buy it, Brown said.
With his own son a Marine, Brown read the messages and knew he had to get it home.
It s a lot deeper than just putting it in the mailbox and shipping it over. It had to be hand delivered, he said.
The Brown family tracked down Maciel s mother, and on Saturday evening, his wife personally put the flag into her arms.
I got peace in my heart. You know I m happy. This is all for my son. Nobody forgot my son, Maciel said.
Two families brought together by a chance find that nobody expected.
This is a once in a lifetime event for all of us, Brown said. So where was that flag all this time? Nobody knows.
The flea market in Hemphill where they found it buys items from abandoned mini-storage units. They re thinking it might have ended up forgotten in one those until it was found.