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This Couple Found a Strange Item on the Flea Market, Then the Marines got Involved



Shopping day

It was just a normal day at the flea market. Walter and his wife Lanie were just looking for cheap finds. But little did they know, they were going to come across a very important item. 

(Culture Trip) 

Walter looked at it carefully and saw all the markings it had. He was surprised. How could such an important item end up here? Walter then motioned his wife to come over. 


Walter Brown and his wife Lanie were Texas residents. They lead a relatively peacefully life. Walter used to serve the country as a member of the US Marines. But never did he expect that he would encounter something like this again.

(Youtube/USA Today)

Walter and his wife just wanted to casually browse the flea market, until something caught his eye. 

The Flea Market Owner

Fred Yahne was just running his store as usual. He would normally buy storage crates from different places and sell their contents for a cheaper price at his flea market. He has been doing this for several years. Until one day, as he was unpacking boxes, he noticed one strange item. 


He carefully pulled it out of the box and inspected it. It seems it was still in good condition. But why would anyone want to sell this? He thought to himself. He tried not to think about it too much and placed the item on the desk, unaware of the consequences that are about to happen. 

Selling items 

“I didn’t know what it was when I was processing the boxes,” Yahne said. As Yahne and his wife were managing the flea market for the day, crowds of people arrived. The couple got a bit too busy, paying attention to multiple customers. 


Eventually, Yahne forgot about the item that he placed aside. And that’s when Walter started to take notice. 

Taking a look

Walter didn’t expect it. He suddenly saw a neatly folded stack of American flags. He felt that it was rather unusual to encounter such an item in the flea market. He called on his wife to take a closer look as well. 

(A Goodgoodbye) 

Walter grabbed one of the flags and inspected it. There, he saw some markings written down on the flag. 

What he saw

It wasn’t just a normal American flag. Walter saw the messages written all over it. As he read the messages one by one, an unexplainable wave of sadness brushed through Walter’s body. “This flag must have belonged to someone,” Walter thought to himself. 

( Youtube/USA Today)

As a former Marine, Walter was well-aware of what this flag was and what is symbolized. 

The price

Lanie looked at the tag attached to the flag. It was just $15, but Yahne decided to give the couple a special discount. Yahne thought that the flag lost its value due to the markings that were written on it, but he was unaware that the item he was about to sell was actually priceless to someone. 

( Youtube/USA Today)

Walter and Lanie were able to buy the flag for only $5. The couple knew what they had to do next. 

Taking it home

After Walter and Lanie went home after an exhausting day, they immediately unpacked the stuff that they bought from the flea market. Walter pulled out the flag and spread it across the table, “Lance corporal” was written on the side of the flag. 

( Youtube/USA Today)

“The rank is specific to the Marines, that’s what caught our eye,” Lanie explained. But after taking a close look at the flag, they realized what it actually was. 

The messages

Across the flag, sweet messages were written all over. “Fred, you were a good Marine and we will always remember you,” they read.

( Youtube/USA Today)

“Hey CHEEKS, wherever you are, make sure you watch over us,” another one said. All of the messages were addressed to one person, Fred. “Fred must have been a good person,” they thought to themselves. But they didn’t know why there were such sweet messages on the flag, until their son-in-law, also a former Marines, explained it. 

Tribute flag

After looking at the flag, Walter’s son-in-law explained that it was actually a tribute flag. A tribute flag is usually given to a former Marine’s family member after he had passed away. The flag they were holding was a tribute to a fallen lance corporal named Fred. 

( Youtube/USA Today)

This made Walter feel responsible. “This flag must have belonged to someone,” he thought to himself. Walter then knew what he needed to do. 

Reaching out

Walter looked at his wife and nodded. They understood what they had to do. Fred’s family must have been looking for their tribute flag and as a former member of the Marines, Walter understood how important the flag was. 

( Youtube/USA Today )

It wasn’t easy finding the deceased lance corporal’s family, but the couple decided to ask for help from their tech-savvy daughter. 

Social media

The couple’s daughter, Cattie, was familiar with how to use social media. But finding Fred’s family was not an easy feat. She would scroll through hundreds of profiles and check them one by one for any clues. She felt exhausted, but Cattie remained hopeful.


Until one day, she came across a profile. 

Finding Fred’s family

Cattie could not believe it. It was almost like a miracle. Looking for Fred’s relatives was like finding a needle in a haystack yet she was able to hit the jackpot. 

(Market Watch) 

One morning as she was casually looking through people’s profiles, she found a woman named Patsy Maciel. She wasn’t just any relative, but she was Fred’s own mother! 

Returning the flag

Walter’s family rejoiced, they had finally found the rightful owner of the tribute flag. Without delay, they headed straight towards Patsy’s home to return the flag. When Patsy saw the flag, she couldn’t help but tear up.


She missed her son dearly. It turns out, she initially discouraged her son from joining. 

Meeting Patsy 

“I cried for three days trying to convince him not to (join)… I lost that fight,” Patsy shared. But Fred was determined to become a member of the Marines and serve the country. Patsy saw the fire in Fred’s eyes and decided to let him go. 

( Youtube/USA Today)

“His dream was to be a Marine, and I had to let him do that. I’m proud of him, that he died doing what he loved,” Patsy shared. 

Losing Fred 

She remembered it clearly, It was in 2013 when she heard the devastating news. At first, she didn’t want to believe it, but she saw it on the television screen. 

( Youtube/USA Today)

Fred was only 20 at that time, he was assigned in Iraq but Patsy didn’t expect that his son would be taken away so soon from her. She broke down in tears. 

An accident

Fred’s helicopter crashed outside of Baghdad, but not because they were attacked, the crash was caused by an enormous sandstorm. Nobody expected that such a tragedy would happen. 

(CBS News) 

Patsy can still recall how long she grieved over her son’s unexpected death. “For eight years, I was a basket case. I didn’t know how to go on without my son,’ Patsy said. 

Losing something important

Patsy didn’t know how she lost it, but she remembered feeling devastated when she realized it was gone. She looked for her son’s tribute flag everywhere, but unfortunately, she was unable to find it. 

( Youtube/USA Today)

It wasn’t until 9 years later that she received an unexpected visit. 

A special event

( Youtube/USA Today)

The Browns arranged a meeting with Patsy. They wanted it to be special.  “I could have mailed it to you and put it in a box, but I wanted to meet you,” Cattie said. Patsy thought that the flag was the only thing the Browns brought to her but when she looked around, she saw Fred’s friends. 

A special event

( Youtube/USA Today)

The Patriot Guard Riders and Marines were also there, and they gave her a special salute. “I’ve got peace in my heart. I’m happy. This is all for my son. Nobody forgot my son,” Patsy tearfully said. 

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