HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA.com) — The mother of a fallen soldier received a special gift on Veterans Day, when a police officer surprised her with a prized possession that once belonged to her son.
Army Specialist Jose Torre fell in Iraq in 2011. Torre’s mother, Candida, was involved in an accident in her son’s car in June, and was told by the insurance company that the vehicle was a complete loss.
The news broke Torre’s heart, as she says the vehicle always reminded her of her son.
“With all my heart, it means a lot to have it back, it really does” Torre said.
Huntington Beach Police officer John Baggs, whose own father was killed in Vietnam, took immediate interest at the scene of the accident when he spotted a dog-tag around her neck, and a Gold Star license plate, which symbolizes that a family member in the military had been killed in the line of duty.
“I thought well I work with some great people, and I knew I could pass around a few envelopes and probably buy this car before they scrap it, and maybe start work on getting it fixed, and I mentioned that to Triple-A and after about an hour they got back to me and said ‘we’re just going to donate it to you’,” Baggs said.
The $15,000 repair became the project of Caliber Collision in Ladoya Heights, with 27 employees giving 120 hours of service.
“Everybody in my shop actually went ahead and fixed the car, and for them, it felt more than just repairing a car,” Caliber Collision’s David Perez said. “We felt that we were restoring someone to the rhythm of their life.”
The surprise was unveiled on Wednesday at a Veterans Day ceremony.
“It’s nice to know that there are people in the world that have good hearts, that are willing to pay it forward,” Torre said.