Marine and Maverick, reunited at last

By Layron Livingston - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The old V-8 is probably the only thing that can be called old on Private Micheal Jackson's 1971 Ford Maverick.

The Maverick was a gift from grandma.  "It looked like a hunk of trash to be quite honest," he said.  "Paint was peeling, there was no back glass."

Four months ago, Jackson came home on leave.  He said he was actually on his way to the body shop when he skid across the median on Gentry Parkway--across 4 lanes of traffic, hitting the curb on the other side.

"The last thing my son saw was his vehicle on the top of the tow truck," said Michelle Santos, Jackson's mother.

The Marine went back to base.  The Maverick eventually made it to Gary Rayson's auto shop.

"It was in pretty rough shape when it came in," said Rayson.  Rayson said he overhauled the car--the brake system, exhaust, and fuel system, and drive train and windows.

"We took all the dents out of it, stripped it down," he said, and repainted it.

Rayson even upgraded the interior floor boards and upholstery.  Neither the Marine, or mom would have ever expected that.

"He went above and beyond trying to help my son," said Santos.  "That's what really touched me."

"For someone to be that kindhearted and appreciate what you do, it definitely makes it all worth it," said Jackson.

"It's kind of a Christmas present, as well as a welcome home present," said Rayson.

Mike returned home more than four months after the accident.   He saw the finished product for the first time, last week.

"Both of us almost had a tear," said Santos.

"I can't thank [Gary] enough," said Jackson.

Marine and Maverick will be together for a little while.  Private Jackson heads back to his base in California in January.

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