Tribute_Flag_1Lanie May Brown displays the Tribute Flag for LCPL Fred Lee Maciel (photo courtesy Lanie May Brown)

Eudora News and Information www.eudorareporter.com

Some people make incredible discoveries of vintage cars in old barns. One former Eudora resident made an even more important discovery in a flea market.

Lanie May Brown, who grew up in Eudora and graduated from Eudora High School in 1980, was looking for a gun holster at a flea market in Hemphill, TX when she came across a United States flag with writing all over it.

“My husband loves flea markets,” Brown said. ” He had found this particular one and had spotted some holsters for my gun that he thought I might be interested in.  So on our way back home he pulled in to take a look at them.”

While Brown’s husband was looking around, she said she wondered into one of the rooms and discovered a stack of flags all neatly folded. She said that one of them had the stripes showing and saw the writing on it.  The letters LCPL (short for Lance Corporal) were visible and having a son who was a Marine, knew this had some sort of military background.

“I didn’t know exactly what we had, but I knew it was of importance,” Brown stated.

Brown bought the flag for a whopping $5.  She said the flea market owner had it priced lower than the other flags for sale because someone had written on it.

Once she returned home, she showed the flag to her son, Cpl John Brown who immediately knew that it was a tribute flag most likely for a fallen soldier. Her son, with the help of Lanie’s daughter Catie Shafer, then went to the internet and in about 10 minutes figured out the name and hometown of the fallen Marine’s family using clues from the flag.   LCPL Fred Lee Maciel was killed on January 26, 2005 when the helicopter he was riding in crashed near Ar Rutbah, Iraq.  Shafer’s husband, CPL Rick Shafer, was also stationed in Iraq and was nearby the chopper crash as well.

The Browns and Shafer tracked down the Maciel family who live near Houston, TX. Brown said she had several phone conversations with Maciel’s mother Patsy who was still suffering from the torment and pain of losing a son.  That’s when the Browns’ were determined to get this flag back in the rightful owners hands. Brown didn’t stop there either. She discovered that a painter in Texas who paints portraits of fallen Texas soldiers and presents them to the family.  Ken Pridgeon had painted a picture of Marciel after his death but had never been able to get it to the family. Brown asked if Pridgeon could bring the painting to the presentation as well and Patsy agreed.

This past Saturday, the Brown’s delivered the flag to Maciel’s parents at the cemetery where he now rests.

“I thought it was going to be just a small little gathering of a few people and when we pulled up near the grave site, their was all these people,” Brown said. “I thought there was another funeral going on.”

One of the many messages written on the Tribute Flag (photo courtesy Lanie May Brown)

One of the many messages written on the Tribute Flag (photo courtesy Lanie May Brown)

Brown said that not only was the Maciel family, Pridgeon and the Browns there, but the Patriot Guard, Rolling Thunder, the Gold Star Mothers and the Blue Star Mothers groups has shown up as well to pay their respects to the fallen hero as well.

In her short speech to the family at the graveside memorial service, Brown said she used a quote from the flag.

“Through trials and tribulations, we have endured what most men would call hell, others would call home, and where the proud would take their last breath! You will always be remembered!”

“That epitomizes what these kids think everyday,” Brown said.

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