Vietnam Vet finds sentimental treasures in Oklahoma tornado rubble

Posted at 12:03 AM, May 24, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-24 00:03:23-04

Moore, Oklahoma - Rick Brown poured a fortune into his house, restoring it, upgrading it, until it was the home of his dreams.

“We called it the Banquet House. But when I turned onto the street and saw all the destruction, it was the boulevard of broken dreams,” says Brown.

And somewhere buried deep inside is something very valuable to him. So valuable he chokes up talking about it.

More important than the computers we and a posse of volunteers found and more important even than the picture of his granddaughter.

“A little over 32 years ago, I was on my way to a graveyard to blow my brains out. Life had become unbearable and I had a vision. It was always going to be the way it was. And I was done,” says Brown.

Brown, a former Vietnam combat medic, was racked with depression, gripped by alcohol. But before he could pull the trigger people showed up.

They convinced him to get help. Over the years, he turned to God, and started making by hand, Bible covers to surprise people he cares about.

Mike Mather: And making those book covers and giving them away to people, does what for you?

“It makes me feel good,” says Brown.

Three are buried in a soggy, splintered mess, including a special one he's promised to a friend. Volunteers find the kitchen, where he left them, and they pluck out the damp leather covers, one by one.

“Now they'll get them stained, with a little bit of character,” says Brown.  “Those  little pieces of leather hold the key to a new life.”

To Brown, they are reminders that he has a life worth living, even in the middle of all this.