Two days after Stewart Rembert was born in 1997, FBI agent Troy Sowers found him in a box behind a dumpster.
He’d been kidnapped from a Lakewood, Wash., hospital by a woman who claimed to be a health care worker.
A full day passed before Sowers found the newborn, abandoned and left for dead. If it weren’t for him, he likely wouldn’t have survived.
On Friday, Rembert had the chance to send Sowers into retirement 22 years after he saved his life. The retirement festivities provided a heartwarming backdrop for the pair’s first meeting since Rembert’s case was closed.
“Without him, I wouldn’t be where I am today, a U.S. marine,” Rembert, who attended his retirement party as a surprise, told Kiro 7.
“I was happy to tell him that I’m living a good life, and I’m going to continue living a good life,” he told NPR. “His efforts that day, and all of his efforts since, made a difference.”
During the retirement gathering, Sowers’s colleague, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Sherri Onks, spoke of the highlights of his career — one of them, of course, being the discovery of Rembert.
“We’ve brought him here to meet you today to wish you well at your retirement,” Onks said to the gathered crowd, according to the FBI’s website.
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“When I saw him, I had to pause a couple of seconds to keep my composure,” Sowers recalled. “This case was something I remembered throughout my career.”
The marine’s kidnapping was one of Sowers’ very first cases as an agent and took a total of 19 gruelling hours. His team managed to track down the woman, who led them to the newborn.
She was later sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty.
Rembert only found out about his kidnapping at five years old, NPR reports.
“I pulled a baby out of a box,” Sowers recalled at his retirement ceremony in Knoxville, Tenn. “That was tough. I had to take a couple deep breaths before I started talking.”
“I think it’s the perfect bookend,” he told Kiro 7. “To end, seeing him again, it really just puts the final touch to a career.”
Little did Sowers know he rescued a future marine.
“I’m proud of anybody that serves others above themselves,” he continued. “The fact that he is now doing that makes that case even more special.”
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