Jessica Johns of Moore, Texas, had just spoken to her husband, Army Lt. Jonathan David Rozier, 12 hours before he was killed by a grenade in Baghdad on July 19, 2003. With their infant son, Justin, to take care of, Johns couldn’t afford to keep Rozier’s new Toyota Celica, so she sold it back to the dealership.
“I didn’t want to keep chipping away at my savings to pay for a car that nobody was using,” she said to NBC News. “It was just sitting in my driveway.”
Fast forward 15 years, and Johns realized that the car would make a really touching gift for her son’s 16th birthday, so she set out to find it.
“I wonder if this car is still out there? I was thinking I would go on a years-long search to find this car.” but it didn’t take that long, thanks to the magic of Facebook.
She made a plea on the social networking site, asking folks to share far and wide to help her find the car.
Johns’ Facebook friends traced the vehicle to Pleasant Grove, Utah. In the end, it took only five days before the car was back on its way home.
The car owner’s daughter contacted Johns on Facebook with her father’s contact information.
“It took me 12 hours to get the courage to call him,” Johns recalled.
When she did, the man said he needed to think about it. He called her back within an hour and said, “I think that your son will get more enjoyment out of having his dad’s car than I would.”
Johns was worried about the cost of purchasing and refurbishing the car, but then an organization called Follow the Flag contacted her. They spearheaded fundraising for the project, and got everything taken care of in time for Justin’s birthday.
Justin received the car at his birthday party.
“I started getting emotional because I never saw John drive that car home,” Johns said. “I was waiting for him, for it to click that’s dad’s car. He starts looking at it, gets in, he looks so much like his dad.”