HOUSTON -- A Houston war veteran is in tears after someone stole his wallet while he was trying to save a woman who was choking in a restaurant.
Bob Carbajal, 62, lost his wife Linda to cancer three years ago.
"About 18 months from the time she was diagnosed to the time she passed away," said Carbajal.
Carbajal and Linda were married when she was just 18. They built a life together, four children and more than four decades of marriage. Their wedding picture still hangs above his couch. For Carbajal, Linda's death was a big loss.
Wednesday morning, he had a chance to save the life of a stranger who was chocking at Frank's Grill in southeast Houston.
"I could hear him saying, 'She stopped breathing. She's not breathing,'" said Carbajal. "I said put her on her side."
Carbajal said he used his 22 years of military experience to do everything he could do save her. He put his wallet and phone on the counter before helping the woman.
"I opened her mouth, and I stuck my finger way down there into her throat. And I could feel the mass. And it was just a matter of sticking my finger up there and plopping it out, landed right there on the floor," said Carbajal.
It was a heroic effort. The woman began breathing again. He turned back to get his phone and wallet and realized that while helping save the woman's life, someone had stolen from him.
Inside of his wallet, he said he had $300 cash that was supposed to be used to buy his grandchildren Christmas presents. Also inside, credit cards, his military ID and one photo that was close to his heart: It was a photo of his late wife when she was a teenager.
"I carried that picture with me through 22 years of military service," Carbajal said.
Carbajal said that one picture got him through war, and grief.
"They took the stuff and maybe just threw the wallet into a bayou or something, that picture is gone forever. That hurts."
He said it hurts bad.
Police believe it was two women who may have taken Carbajal's wallet. One of the women was last seen wearing a white shirt with white and black pants. The other was wearing a tan button down shirt, with blue jeans and tan boots.
Thieves steal war veteran's wallet as he saved woman choking in restaurant