From the left. Sgt. Joseph Pitera, Beejan Roohian, Cindy Davis-Williamson and her son.
The original shadowbox that was lost in the North Bay wildfires.
The new shadowbox full of medals and patches, restored by Beejan Roohian and Sgt. Joseph Pitera.
Beejan Roohian and Sgt. Joseph Pitera.
SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KTVU) - Cindy Davis-Williamson lost everything in the firestorm that ravaged the North Bay. Included in the loss are military medals that belonged to her brother, who was killed in action in Vietnam, as well as the flag her father, a veteran, was buried under.
Beejan Roohian, a 34-year-old Santa Rosa resident, did everything in his power to restore the love that was connected with the memorabilia of Davis-Williamson’s late brother and father. Video of the heartwarming exchange has since circulated and gained considerable attention.
“My phone has been blowing up,” said Roohian, manager of Manly Honda in Santa Rosa. “I’m like, ‘oh my god, this is not what I was doing this for.’”
With the help of Sergeant Joseph Pitera, who serves at the US Army Recruiting Office in Santa Rosa, Roohian able to restore the shadowbox full of medals to a near mirror image, as well as the flag, which was tri-folded by a group of veterans in Sonoma Country.
"I never expected anyone, especially someone I had only spoke to on the phone, to go to such lengths to replace my brother's memorabilia," Davis-Williamson said. "And then to go to the extra lenth to get a new flag for my father, it's very humbling to see this kind of effort of someone who barely knows the person."
And it was Davis-Williamson’s son, Eddie Williamson, 25, who played a pivotal role in this mission. He was in contact with Roohian the whole time and it was his potential purchase of a car that brought the family into Roohian’s office.
Davis-Williamson had no idea what she was walking into.
And despite reports of struggles bogging Davis-Williamson down while pushing through the recovery process, she came in with hopeful news. A rental became available for her family. Roohian was originally nervous with how to present the newly restored shadowbox and flag, but the method was laid right before him.
“Well now you got a place to hang this stuff,” Roohian said, as he began to hand over the items.
Roohian caught wind of the loss in a conversation with Davis-Williamson when she described irreplaceable items that were lost in the fires. She was sobbing the entire time.
Six months prior, Roohian joined a social media group called “The Honor Guard,” which hands out patches to those “who serve our nation and communities.” He wanted to take this movement local, and so he presented it to his boss, and “The Hero Program” was born, with an aim to help first responders and military personnel purchase vehicles. But he wanted to take it to the next level.
“It’s not about bringing them to the dealership to buy cars,” Roohian said. “But it’s about letting them know there’s a place to be treated right.”
Davis-Williamson was prime for elevating Roohian’s vision to do more with the program.
And the reaction is truly moving. It’s that relief, the restoration of unique happiness, that Roohian was seeking when he developed The Hero Program. With such an enormous amount of loss, reestablishing items like this may seem out of reach to victims.
"You think, 'what's the motive?'" Davis-Williamson said, speaking to Roohian's character. "There is none. He's just a really good guy."
Eleven people have since reached out to Roohian with similar matters, and he couldn't be more excited.
“Most of us have gone back to our normal lives,” Roohian said. “I just want people to be able to move on, and if this small little thing helps, I’m going to do it.”
Roohian welcomes any and all inquiries at this point. He’s provided his email for those seeking help, firstname.lastname@example.org.