They Found An Old Flag At A Flea Market, Then They Saw Writing On…..

In a small town in Texas, Walter and Lanie Brown were out shopping for a holster for Lanie’s new Walter P22 pistol at a flea market. While they were browsing through the selection of flags, a particular one caught Walter’s eye. It wasn’t the $5 price tag that drew him in, but rather the messages written all over the flag’s stripes. The couple was shocked to discover that the messages were for a fallen lance corporal.

“The rank is specific to the Marines, that’s what caught our eye,” recalled Lanie. The flag was a “tribute flag” that had been signed by the fallen Marine’s platoon and should have been included in a package to the family along with the Marine’s personal effects and a letter from his commander. The Browns knew what they had to do.

With the help of their daughter and her husband, the Browns identified the flag as one that had been made for Fred Lee Maciel, a 20-year-old Marine who had died in Iraq in 2005. After tracking down Fred’s mother, Patsy Maciel, they knew that they had to hand-deliver the tribute flag to her in Humble.

“Patsy, our family feels so honored to have been chosen to find this flag,” Lanie told Patsy when she received the tribute flag. “Thank you for sharing this piece of your boy with us,” she added before passing Patsy a small rectangular box. The two embraced in front of a crowd of family members, friends, and Patriot Guard Riders who had gathered at the grave of the fallen Marine for a ceremony in his honor.

Fred Maciel was one of 31 American servicemen killed in a crash 220 miles west of Baghdad in a severe sandstorm. Patsy was sleeping when the news broke, and she thought that the military would have informed the family before the incident was reported on TV.

We were arguing about it when they knocked on my door,” Patsy said. “I was crushed,” she recalled. “I didn’t know how to make memories without my son.”

Although she had received her son’s official flag and other effects, the tribute flag never made its way to her. Now that it has, “It’ll be with me ’til I die,” she said. “It was a simple twist of fate it wasn’t someone else finding a flag meant for me and my husband,” she added. “This is a piece of my son I’m getting back,” she said. “It’s a great feeling.”

It’s unclear how the flag ended up at the flea market, but the owner, Fred Yahne, believes it may have been among the contents of one of the many storage units his shop buys at auction.

“I didn’t know what it was when I was processing the boxes,” he said. “I really wanted to see what it was.” He had put the flag on one of the market’s main counters to look at it later, but his wife sold it before he had a chance. “I would want that if it was one of my sons,” added Yahne, who has two children who served in the Army.

At the ceremony, Fred Maciel’s family wore shirts featuring photos of the late Marine with the words “We sent a boy to become a man, and he became our hero.”

Patsy admits she didn’t want her son going off to war, but Fred enlisted before he even graduated. He came home from high school one day to tell his mom he’d joined the Marines. “I cried for three days trying to convince him not to (join),” Patsy recalled. “I lost that fight,” Patsy added. “His dream was to be a Marine, and I had to let him do that,” she explained, “I’m proud of him, that he died doing what he loved.”

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