Fallen Soldier’s Mother Gets A Surprise Of A Lifetime.
In Huntington Beach, California, police officer John Baggs was investigating a car crash in the city when he noticed the license plate on the vehicle involved had a Gold Star emblem on it, indicating the driver had lost a military family member in the line of duty.
As he approached the driver, Candida Torre, he also noticed she had military ID tags around her neck, and, with her hand covering her face, she was crying.
The car she had wrecked, a 2009 Nissan Cube, had belonged to her 21-year-old son, Jose, an Army specialist, who was killed while serving in Iraq in 2011. It was her son’s first and only car, one that he had bought with his combat pay, and the car that she drove to remember him. But now, that car was totaled.
Officer Baggs did the best he could to comfort the woman, letting her know that he too, was a Gold Star member, with his dad being killed in Vietnam on Veteran’s Day in 1976.
Says the officer: “She looked at me and said, ‘I’m so sorry for your loss.’ That’s something that always stuck in my mind as the days went by.”
It wasn’t long after that that Officer Baggs decided he was going to do something to help Candida. He knew how much that wrecked car meant to her, so he contacted her insurance provider and asked if he could buy that car from them to have it repaired.
Hearing his story about the woman, the Auto Club donated it to him. Then, Officer Baggs took it to Caliber Collision, and through its charity program “Recycled Rides,” 30 technicians volunteered 120 hours of their time to completely fix the wrecked car.
The officer then invited Candida to attend a special Veteran’s Day event he planned. With several looking on, Officer Baggs told about Candida’s story, and then he presented her the keys to her son’s restored car.
A very surprised and choked-up Candida said: “It means a lot to me to have it back… it really does. It’s nice to know there are people in the world that have good hearts… that are willing to pay it forward.”
Officer Baggs believes now that when Candida drives her son’s car, she will not only remember him by it, but know that many in the community support her, and they, too, will never forget the sacrifice her son made.
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