After Lieutenant Jonathan David Rozier died in Iraq in 2003, his wife sold his 1999 Toyota Celica convertible to make ends meet while she cared for their 9-month-old son.
More than 15 years later, Rozier’s wife, Jessica Johns, tracked down the car in Pleasant Grove, Utah, and is raising money to buy the car for her son’s 16th birthday gift, according to ABC News.
“I was hitting dead ends so I took to Facebook to see if anyone had any idea to help me find it,” Johns told the Daily Herald.
“Someone suggested a Carfax report since I had the VIN, so we pulled it. The car was spotted. The owner’s daughter found me on Facebook. I did not ever really think we would find it or that the owner would be willing to sell it,” Johns said.
Kyle Fox, the co-founder of Follow the Flag, a patriot group in Pleasant Grove, Utah, caught wind of the story and wanted to help secure the appropriate funds for purchase and shipping, so the group organized a GoFundMe campaign.
Donations from more than 100 people make up more than half of the $10,000 fundraising goal so far. The funding will provide the car, a tune-up and detailing, shipping from Utah to Texas, a big red bow and a gas money fund.
Johns and Follow the Flag hope to surprise Rozier’s son, Justin, on his birthday in October. Any leftover funds will be donated to the Johns’ family.
According to the GoFundMe page, Rozier’s platoon was running a traffic control checkpoint in Baghdad when a pickup truck requested to bring a deceased body through for burial.
Once the truck passed, the supposedly deceased man sat up and opened fire on Rozier with an RPG launcher, a rocket-propelled grenade.
Fox wrote on the GoFundMe page: “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.”