July 27, 2014 at 10:35 AM ET
Lanie Brown was at her local flea market in Texas, hoping to find a good deal, when she came across something much more precious.
Within a pile of American flags, she found one that looked peculiar, covered in writing from a black marker. Brown wasn't sure what the writing was, but the seller felt it lessened the value of the flag.
Her curiosity piqued, Brown bought the flag for the low asking price of $5.
When Brown showed it to her son, who is a Marine, he explained that it was a tribute flag for a fallen Marine, signed by everyone in his unit. The recipient of the flag was Lance Cpl. Fred Maciel, who had been killed nine years earlier in a helicopter crash in Iraq.
"It's priceless," Brown said of the flag. "We would've given her $100 if she'd asked for it."
In hopes of finding the fallen soldier's family so they could present them with the flag, Brown's family took to Facebook. There they came across his mother, Patsy Maciel.
The Browns arranged a meeting with Patsy Maciel on Saturday at the cemetery where her son is buried, presenting her with the flag — a memento she said she didn't even know existed.
"It's a piece of my son coming back to me," Maciel said. "It feels great, and I love them for that."