1010 WINS-The teenage son of a fallen soldier received a very special gift for his fifteenth birthday — the very same car his father drove before being deployed to Iraq in 2003.
Justin Rozier was only nine-months-old when his father was killed while serving in Iraq.
After Army Lt. Jonathan David Rozier died in the line of duty on July 19th, 2003, his wife Jessica sold her husband’s 1999 Toyota back to the dealer so she wouldn’t have to make payments on the unused vehicle. The couple’s son, Justin, was only nine-months-old at the time — his use of the car a long way off.
Almost 15 years later, Jessica thought about the car again when it was time for Justin to begin driving. After finding her husband’s old registration, she posted a plea on Facebook with a photo and the Toyota’s vehicle identification number thinking it would take quite a while to track down. In a matter of days, Jessica heard something back. The daughter of the car’s owner who lived in Utah connected the two and after some thought, the owner decided to let it go.
In stepped Utah-based group Follow the Flag who set up a fundraiser to pay for, restore, and transport the car back to Texas — with all leftover funds going to the family.
“Imagine the feeling of holding the steering wheel of a car your late father once drove. A father you never knew,” co-founder Kyle Fox wrote on the organization’s GoFundMe page for the family. “What a priceless gift.”
After getting worked up by Fox and his friends at A.F. Collision Repair, including custom red, white, and blue upholstery the car was dropped off at Justin’s door just in time for his 15th birthday.
“You look so much like Jon sitting in here. You do, you’re like the spitting image of him,” Jessica told her son as he sat in the car for the first time. “I feel like the first time you drive this car down that driveway and leave and I see your hair blowing in the wind like your dads did,” she continued, “it’s going to feel like he’s sitting right next to you.”
“You know how we never got to see your dad come home. Seeing that car come up the driveway was like seeing him come home,” Jessica said through tears.
“I’m so glad we could do this for you.”
Watch the full video below.