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Pleasant Grove man returns car to fallen soldier's son 15 years later

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PLEASANT GROVE — The market for a 1999 Toyota Celica GT probably isn’t very big.

But Kyle Fox had to have one particular Celica.

"It has a double trouble tape deck CD player. It’s pretty good,” Fox said about the car. "It was less than 48 hours and it was found."

This car's story, though, goes back even further.

"I guess it's about 15 years ago,” Fox said. “Justin was just a baby at the time and his father, Jonathan, left to go to Iraq to serve our country and did not come home."

First Lt. Jonathan Rozier of the U.S. Army from Texas was killed in the line of duty in 2003.

He left behind his wife, Jessica, and baby son, Justin, as well as his ‘99 Celica, which his wife sold to make ends meet.

Now, Justin is of driving age, and his mother decided to see if she could track down that old car to give to her son.

"He likely only knows his father through stories from family and photos on the wall,” Fox said.

She found it was last registered in Pleasant Grove and posted a picture of the car to the city's Facebook page.

Fox saw that post and shared it with his friends.

Since Fox is also the man behind the “Follow the Flag” group, which put a large American flag across a canyon this past July 4, he has many social media followers. One of them saw Fox's post and later noticed the car outside Jorge Cruz’s Pleasant Grove home.

"That was my dream car as a teenager,” Cruz said.

He had just bought the car four months ago in Ogden after seeing it listed on a used car website. Cruz had been looking for a GT convertible model for years.

“I wanted it as a project. My wife told me not to buy it because I didn’t need it, but I had to get it,” he said.

Normally, Cruz parks the car inside his garage.

But one day last month, he parked the car along the side of the road.

That happened to be the same day someone drove by and recognized it from Fox’s Facebook post.

"I didn't have any idea,” Cruz said. “Nothing at all.”

Fox contacted Cruz and showed him the Facebook post. He told Cruz the story about the soldier and his son, and Cruz, as much as he loved the car, decided to sell it.

"I believe nothing happens for just chance. Something has a purpose in life, and if you can make somebody happy, do it,” said Cruz. “It’s bittersweet for me, but that’s a good feeling somebody is going to be happy out of this.”

Fox raised money to buy the car through a GoFundMe page* and is having it fixed up with new paint, tires and glass before sending it back to Texas.

It’s his way of saying thank you and will be a complete surprise to the soldier’s son.

"I did not serve and I realize there can be soldiers everywhere,” Fox said. “We're all patriots and you can do it in your own backyard. We all should be doing it. It's very rewarding."

* does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Alex Cabrero


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