Boy Loses Soldier Dad And 15 Years Later Stranger At Door Tells Mom And Son To Come Outside

Jul 07, 2021 by apost team

Moore, Texas resident Justin Rozier never got to meet his dad. When he was only nine months old, Army 1st Lt. Jonathan Rozier was lost while serving overseas, leaving him and his mother, Jessica Johns. Johns spoke to her husband only 12 hours before he died, updating him on their sweet boy. While this story comes to us from 2017, it is still as resonant today as it was then.

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Following Jonathan's untimely death, Johns was left trying to pick up the pieces of their life in Texas. She had to figure out how to live without her husband, both emotionally and financially. One of the choices she had to make was to relinquish her husband’s beloved black 1999 Toyota Celica convertible. 

"I didn’t want to keep chipping away at my savings to pay for a car that nobody was using," Johns told NBC. "It was just sitting in my driveway."

After that, Johns went on with her life, paying little mind to the vehicle her late husband once drove.

Fast-forward through the next 14 years to the then-teenaged Justin Rozier. The boy had always longed to know his father and cherished everything he had of his. He had his father’s dog tags, photos, and other treasured possessions, but he couldn’t shake the idea of having something his father really loved: his car. He tried to explain it, but couldn’t. He just wanted to sit in the same seat as his dad did, in a car that his dad loved. Just a month shy from 15 at the time, Rozier had already obtained his driving permit and was planning on getting his license that following year. His father's car would be the perfect coming-of-age gift.

Johns decided to try to find the car for her son, knowing it was highly unlikely that she would be successful. Even so, she felt like she had to at least try for her son. She put her story out on social media and Rozier’s story quickly spread throughout the nation.

"I mean, it could have been a 1974 Dodge Astro -- I don't even know if that's a car -- but it could have been anything and he would have said, 'Yes,'" Johns told CBS at the time. 

The reason? "I know that he wishes his dad was here," she explained. 

Rozier was only 9 months old when his father, Lt. Jonathan Rozier, died in Iraq in 2003. With his chance to get to know his father robbed away so early, Rozier cherishes everything he's left behind. 

"I don't know, just knowing that he had it -- it's a whole lot different than just any other thing," Rozier admitted.

Johns was determined to make her son's birthday wish come true. "I feel like this is something that would connect him," she said. Looking for the vintage car would by no means be an easy feat, but she had to start somewhere. "Well, I've seen magical things happen on Facebook," Johns recalled. And with that, she began the social media campaign to locate the vehicle. She made a simple plea on her profile with an old photo of the car, well over a year before Rozier's 16th birthday. Keeping her plan secret from her son was absolutely crucial, so she had to come up with an excuse to ban him from using social media. 

"I wonder if this car is still out there? I was thinking I would go on a years-long search to find this car," she said

It didn't take long for the post to reach Pleasant Grove, Utah, where the locals found '99 Toyota convertible. The daughter of the owner got in touch with Johns and gave her her dad's number, but cautioned Johns that he might not be too keen to sell. Johns became nervous. 

“If I call and he doesn’t want to sell it then my hopes would be crushed,” Johns told NBC. “It took me 12 hours to get the courage to call him."

Upon reaching the car owner, she explained why buying back the car was so important to her. Hesitant at first, he said he would think about it. It only took him an hour to call Johns back with the news she needed. 

“I think that your son will get more enjoyment out of having his dad’s car than I would,” she recalled of their conversation. "I just got really excited,” she added.

With the car tracked down and ready to be sold, there was still one problem: the funds. That's where Pleasant Grove local Kyle Fox comes in. 

"We decided, let's see if we can buy the car," Fox told CBS. "So I'm always trying to do something like that to serve."

Fox collected donations for the big surprise through his non-profit, Follow the Flag, which aims to honor the lives and families of fallen soldiers. After purchasing the car, Fox brought together a team of local mechanics who volunteered to fix it up and make it like new. It took them a month and a half to refurbish the ride before they could ship it to Rozier just in time for his 15th birthday. "It’s what we do, it’s something we do in hopes of inspiring others," Fox said.

The surprise was revealed at Rozier's birthday party, where both he and his mother began brawling. It was a heartwarming moment. 

"I was waiting for him, for it to click that’s dad’s car,” Johns said. “He starts looking at it, gets in, he looks so much like his dad."

Naturally, the whole mission to get the vehicle to Rozier wasn't about the vehicle itself, but rather what it symbolized; a piece of the dad he never got to know. 

"It's a link to the past for him. It's a big thing for me too. I never got to see him come home. So that just one moment right there was -- I think I needed that," Rozier said.

And then, of course, it also symbolized the strength of a community when it comes together to help their fellow person. 



Did Justin Rozier’s reaction bring tears to your eyes and a smile to your face? Do you have a story of the community coming together to help one of their own as well? Let us know in the comments, and make sure to spread the love to your friends by sending this their way!

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