(NEW YORK) — A U.S. Marine widow was reunited with more than just the phone she lost. She was reunited with the memories of her late husband.
Haley Johnson had been hunting for her iPhone 6 since Saturday, when she was shopping at Camp Pendleton’s MCX store and it disappeared.
“When she turned around from her cart either someone snatched it or she may have put it on the counter when she was checking out. We used an app to track it right away and it was moving out of the store as we were going back in for it,” Johnson’s mother-in-law, Eva Curtis, told ABC News.
Johnson’s husband, Sgt. Mark Johnson, died alongside five other Marines when their helicopter crashed during a mission to provide humanitarian aid after the Nepal earthquake in May.
“My heart sank,” Johnson told ABC affiliate KGTV. “My son asks to see photos and videos of his father at night before bed, and we’ve used this phone to get through this time.”
Among the memories stored on the phone are the last photos of Sgt. Johnson and his two children before he was deployed in November 2014. There are also FaceTime screenshots of some of Haley and Mark’s last conversations before the crash.
“The [children] need those memories more than anyone. Those photos are going to mean so much to them while they’re growing up,” Curtis said.
Some of these photos were backed up to Haley’s iCloud account, but a lot were lost since her storage filled up.
Johnson and Curtis tracked the phone to Harbor Liquor Store in Oceanside, California, before it was turned off on Saturday. The store manager called Curtis on Monday night to tell her the good news about the missing iPhone.
“I was told a Marine found the phone in a bush outside the store and handed it to [the manager]. Everything was on there and it’s a big relief for both of us,” Curtis said.
Johnson picked up her phone Tuesday afternoon and was reunited with the last photos of her family together.
”The last text before he crashed read, ‘Well, babe, I’m getting on this bus. I love you and miss you so much,” Johnson said.
Mark and Haley had just celebrated their first wedding anniversary on Dec. 31.
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