Marine gets remodeled car after vandalism

KATY - A retired Marine struggled to find the words Thursday after seeing the brand new paint job on his 1996 Ford Escort.

The vandals struck sometime in the late night hours of September 21 at his west Houston apartment complex near I-10 and Dairy Ashford.

"It's gorgeous," retired Marine Lance Cpl. Hector Cortez said. "It's beyond what I expected. Way beyond what I expected."

Just over two weeks ago vandals painted profanities and racial slurs all over the car as it was parked at Cortez's apartment complex.

And as soon as the story aired on KPRC, dozens of Houstonians reached out to help, including Nick Tajian, the owner of Mason Road Collision Auto Center in Katy.

Tajian donated about $2,000 in services, including new paint and body work. He said it was the least he could do.

"Prior to this, I had no idea what the soldiers go through," Tajian said. "After I sat down and spoke with him for like five minutes… these guys really need our support and our help."

Cortez served two tours of duty in Iraq and suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder also called PTSD.

Cortez picked up his car with his service dog, Rusty, by his side.

After a horrible act of vandalism, Cortez is driving away with a fancy paint job, and a new outlook.

"Random people, complete strangers… to offer help, service, comfort, or just to be a friend. A little bit of faith in humanity has been restored," he said. "A lot of it."

After a long drive in his new car Cortez said he will take his car to a mechanic, who has also offered to donate his services. There, he will be getting a tune up and his air conditioning fixed.

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