A Fort Worth teacher and Army veteran got an unexpected surprise Monday -- a replacement for the pair of Army-issued sunglasses he had recently lost.
Omar Elizalde's Oakley sunglasses survived an improvised explosive device blast and a suicide bomber attack, but they couldn't survive a ride on his car back home in Texas. The former Army Ranger lost them a few weeks ago when he accidentally placed them on his car roof and forgot about them.
The former Army captain who served two tours of duty in Iraq remembers feeling a pit in his stomach when he lost the sunglasses.
"It wasn't so much the inanimate object piece, the glasses; it was the memories," he said.
The glasses shaded him from the sun, shielded his eyes from sand and covered his tears when a fellow soldier died.
"Capt. Jason West -- he was killed in Ramadi," Elizalde said. "I wore those glasses with the clear lenses in a hero flight. The second brother of mine that I lost where I saw him through those glasses was another fantastic officer who I learned a lot from -- Travis Patriquin, Capt. Travis Patriquin."
Both men were killed in enemy attacks.
Elizalde, a Spanish teacher at North Side High School whose first teaching job was training the Iraqi police force in Ramadi, Iraq, posted about losing his glasses on Facebook.
Others -- NBC 5 among them -- found out about it.
Madalene Mielke, a political consultant in Washington, D.C., saw the post. She contacted Reggie Escalante in Orange County, Calif., a friend who is a dating coach and big supporter of veterans charities.
Escalante was able to use a contact at Oakley to rummage around the company’s warehouse, where he found a new pair of the old glasses that Elizalde believed were no longer manufactured.
The glasses were then mailed to Texas, and Elizalde was presented with them on Monday, the federal observance of Veterans Day.
"A lot of memories here, bro," Elizalde said, holding back tears.