Earlier this month, a couple named Lanie and Walter Brown went to a flea market in Hemphill, Texas, about 170 miles northeast of Houston.  And someone was selling an American flag with a bunch of writing all over it.



Then when they looked closer, they realized it was a "tribute flag", covered in two dozen messages for a 20-year-old Marine named Lance Corporal Fred Maciel, who served two tours in Iraq.  Sadly, he died in a helicopter crash in 2005.



The person selling it initially wanted 15 bucks, but then saw it was covered in writing, and dropped it to $5.  According to Lanie, they would have paid a HUNDRED if they needed to.  They just knew they had to buy it.



Lanie and Walter have two sons in the Marines, and Walter was a Marine too.  So they made it their mission to track down Fred's family.  And eventually they found his mom on Facebook, and got in touch



It's still not clear how the flag ended up at the flea market.  But the messages were from the rest of Fred's unit, and his mom said she'd never seen it before, and didn't even know it existed.  So Lanie brought it to her this weekend for a special memorial service.



She said she and her husband went so far out of their way, because when you're the parent of a Marine, it's like ALL Marines are your kids. 



(KHOU / Click2Houston / Today)



(Check out some photos here.)