Veteran’s flag returned to family in North Carolina 26 years later

More than two decades after a veteran’s funeral flag disappeared, it’s back where it belongs.

Paula Roberts found a veteran’s funeral flag while shopping at a Goodwill store in Odessa, Texas.

She was able to track down his family in North Carolina and return the flag after 26 years.

Paula Roberts found a veteran's funeral flag while shopping at a Goodwill in Odessa, Texas. She was able to track down his family in North Carolina and return the flag after 26 years.

Paula Roberts found a veteran’s funeral flag while shopping at a Goodwill in Odessa, Texas. She was able to track down his family in North Carolina and return the flag after 26 years.

The flag never made it to the WWII veteran’s funeral back in 1988. It was ordered and shipped, but no one had heard anything about it since.

Roberts was recently shopping at the store and spotted the flag in a plastic case on the back shelf.

It was labeled with masking tape that said, “Charlie Gaston funeral drape.” It was priced at $9.99.

It didn’t take much convincing for Roberts to buy the flag and get to researching. In just a week and a half, Roberts not only discovered who Gaston was, but also found his adopted son, George, in North Carolina.

Roberts contacted the school that his sister-in-law once worked at, and she couldn’t believe the news when she got the call.

“Someone in Odessa, Texas has found a flag that was supposed to be on his father’s casket, and I said, ‘what?’” she said.

George is now in his 70s and suffers from multiple sclerosis, but his sister-in-law, Mary Lou Barnes, says the flag has made him smile for the first time in a long time.

“He smiles at good classical music, and he smiled at this flag,” she said. “He said he only wished it would have happened when his mother, Jewel, was alive, because she would’ve really been thrilled to have gotten that flag.”

But the flag isn’t the only thing being sent to them. Roberts also found George’s naturalization papers from his adoption, something he has never had.

“I said ‘George, do you have a copy of your naturalization papers?’ He said, ‘no.’ And I said, ‘well you do now!’”

Needless to say, Barnes is grateful for all the hard work that Roberts put in to make sure Charlie the flag gets home.

“She had to be a pretty incredibly special person to take the time and the energy out of her life to try to find a home for this flag,” Barnes said. “She’s definitely in the good person club.”

CNN contributed to this report.

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