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Daughter receives gift from fallen father

Jade, daughter of fallen U.S. Marine Corps Major. Photo: RAF Lakenheath

The daughter of a US Navy pilot who was killed when his plane crashed in Cambridgeshire has received a heartwarming memento from her fallen father.

Click here for the full report from Tanya Mercer

34 year old Major Taj Sareen was killed when his F/A-18 Hornet came down shortly after take off from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk last October. He had been returning home after a six month tour in Iraq and Syria.

During his short stay at Lakenheath, Sareen purchased a puzzle box from a Turkish bazaar shop on the base run by Romeo Ovelek and Umut Nafile. He had it engraved for his daughter Jade, who was just a year old at the time.

Major Taj Sheen Credit: ABC7 News
A puzzle box similar to the one given to little Jade. Credit: RAF Lakenheath

"We knew that the box had to have been lost with the plane, so we.. made it our mission to get his daughter a new puzzle box," Umut Nafile said.

The new box was made and delivered from Turkey by Nafile's father.

Romeo Ovelek, and Umut Nafile, shop owners in the RAF Lakenheath and Mildenhall Base Exchanges Credit: RAF Lakenheath

The box Jade received was similar to the one purchased by her father, but it held much more. With help from the Marines, the box held Sareen's dog tags, a locket containing his photograph and the added engraving, "Daddy loves you always."

Maj. Sareen was a fantastic pilot, and a loving father who spoke with his daughter daily on deployment. His remarkable personality left an impression on the Turkish puzzle box maker, enough for them to do this grand gesture thanking Sareen's family for his service and sacrifice."

– U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Allen Szczepek

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