Flag at Flea Market Brings Late Marine’s Mom to Tears

Flea markets tend to have some interesting items, but most of the time, people take things home without knowing anything about the story behind it. But when Walter Brown and his wife Lanie went to the flea market in Hemphill, Texas, they stumbled upon something invaluable.

A bugler plays taps during a funeral service.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The couple was there to find a holster for Lanie’s new Walter P22 pistol, but they found something worth a lot more. Walter told his wife, “come look at this…” IN his hands was an old flag covered in writing. They started to read it.

One Man’s Flea Market Item is Another Man’s Treasure

It turns out the writing was for a fallen lance corporal. “Fred, you were a good Marine and we will always remember you.” Another line read, “Hey CHEEKS, wherever you are, make sure you watch over us.”

A photo of Walter Brown / The flag he found.
Source: YouTube

Lanie and Walter learned that it was a “tribute flag,” which should have been in a package that was sent to the Marine’s family. The couple searched and found out that the fallen Marine was Fred Lee Maciel, a 20-year-old Marine killed in action in Iraq in 2005.

Years After the Helicopter Crash

They were able to track down Fred’s mother, Patsy. And so, years after losing her son in a helicopter crash, a random couple called her to tell her that they had something she would definitely want.

A close up image of the writing on the flag.
Source: YouTube

They didn’t want to send such a precious item by airmail, so they decided to bring it to her by hand. “Patsy, our family feels so honored to have been chosen to find this flag,” Lanie told her. “Thank you for sharing this piece of your boy with us.”

It Was Fate

They embraced each other in front of family members and loved ones at Fred’s gravesite. Fred had been one of the 31 American servicemen who were killed in a crash 220 miles west of Baghdad. “It’ll be with me ’til I die,” Patsy said when taking the flag.

A photo of Fred Lee Maciel.
Source: Facebook

“It was a simple twist of fate. It wasn’t someone else finding a flag meant for me and my husband. This is a piece of my son I’m getting back. It’s a great feeling.”