In 2003, Jonathan Rozier went off to war in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, saying goodbye to his wife Jessica and baby son.
American Hero< LT Jonathan D. Rozier >16 July 1978 – 19 July 2003
He was honored with a Bronze Star for valor, maneuvering his platoon of tanks in the line of fire to create a shield that protected US Army foot soldiers.
But he fell in battle.
Months after his deployment, Rozier was killed during an ambush, leaving Jessica and her 9-month-old son, Justin, devastated.
To add to her grief, Jessica had been making payments on the 1999 convertible Toyota Celica that sat in the driveway. She needed to pay for things like childcare and bills, and knew she had to give up the car. Toyota let her forfeit the loan and return the car, so she did.
Then, about 14 years later, Justin obtained his driving permit and asked his mother if it would be possible to get a car.
Jessica knew that Justin would be thrilled with any car she could get him. But Jessica also knew that as Justin grew up, he cherished every little memento he had of his father because he never knew him, and that was all he had.
I want to make sure that everyone knows how much we appreciate all the comments, messages, likes and shares! This is…
“I’ve seen magical things happen on Facebook,” Jessica told CBS’s Steve Hartmann. So she made a post with as much detail about the car as she could find, hoping that fellow Facebookers could perhaps locate the car and then she would have a chance to buy it back, whatever the condition.
“I know that he wishes his dad was here,” Jessica said. “I feel like this is something that would connect him.”
She knew it was a long shot, but it didn’t hurt to try.
** HELP **Can someone please help me find this car? It's a 1999 Toyota Celica convertible. VIN jt5fg02t3x0055626It…
The miracle Jessica wished for actually happened—the story blew up, and the right people saw it.
The post found its way to some people who shared it to the Facebook group “Follow the Flag,” a patriotic group founded in Utah. Group founder Kyle Fox had actually been taking a social media break, but logged back on to see Jessica’s desperate plea. In a video, Fox explains what a great thing it would be to reunite this family with this car—despite the search endeavor being like looking for a needle in a haystack—and rallied the group.
He put together a GoFundMe to raise money for any necessary repairs and travel (from Utah to the family in Texas)—but it turned out even that was unnecessary as a whole eight auto workers volunteered their services to fix up this car.
“Patriotism runs deep in this community,” Fox said.
Together, they tracked down the owner of the car.
I just came across this video!! I am completely overwhelmed by what is happening. Completely. The magnitude of what y'all are doing for Justin and Jonathan is not lost on me. ❤️❤️❤️
The current owner of the car was Jorge Cruz, who had also seen this Facebook post circulating around after it was posted to Follow the Flag.
For Cruz, it was also a car of sentimental value.
Just saw this and I'm so glad and also sad that Jorge got to see the end result of the car. I know how hard it must have…
“I am originally from Guatemala and as a teenager a Celica is just a dream for me,” he told Good4Utah. But as he learned more about Jessica and Justin’s story from Kyle Fox, he knew it was something he wanted to be a part of.
Cruz gladly sold the car to Fox, and now they just had to fix it up and drive it to the family.
Fox used the funds people had donated to buy the car and for gas on the trip.
“Imagine the feeling of holding the steering wheel of a car your late father once drove. A father you never knew. A father who died in the line of duty serving his country. What a priceless gift,” he wrote.
And when Justin did finally get behind the wheel—he was speechless.
He tried for several moments, but couldn’t find the words.
The moment was no less moving for Jessica, who never got to see her husband come home.
“I never got to see him come home. That one moment right there,” she said, pausing to wipe away a tear. “I think I needed that.”
Watch an interview with the family:
And see the moment the car is delivered: