13 Sep Indiana Marine killed in Afghanistan: Thousands honor Humberto Sanchez
A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the surname of the Martin family.
LOGANSPORT, Ind. — There’s not much the community, or the country, can say to the family of fallen Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto Sanchez — except thank you.
“Everybody here owes that family a debt of gratitude,” said Becky Jackson, as she stood in downtown Logansport, awaiting a military procession to bring Sanchez home. “They made the ultimate sacrifice. They gave all. They gmave their son … You can’t put it into words what you feel. You just feel like you need to show the family that we honor their sacrifice.”
On Sunday afternoon, Hoosiers showed up — and they showed up in droves — to catch a glimpse of the fallen Marine’s procession and pay their respects. Sanchez died during an attack in the final days of “America’s longest war” in Afghanistan, along with 12 other U.S. service members.
The procession brought Sanchez home on a nearly 20 mile route, beginning at Grissom Air Force Base along U.S. 31 north of Kokomo, traveling northwest through Indiana’s backroad highways, and arriving in Logansport — the place where he was born and raised, and now, will be laid to rest.
Hundreds of people lined up along the roads of the city of about 18,000, many near a ceremonial garrison flag, hoisted up about 75 feet by two fire trucks. Several law enforcement agencies, including Indiana State Police and the Logansport Police Department, escorted a hearse carrying Sanchez to Gundrum Funeral Home. Rows and rows of motorcycles, some said thousands, followed in their path.
“This turnout right here today, it’s everything you need to know about the community of Logansport,” said Michael Bowditch, waiting with Cindy Bowditch, his wife, and their four children. “I’m proud of what I can see here.”
The ceremony encompassed both loud patriotism and quiet reflection, some signs bold, while others were more subtle.
People across generations, including school-aged children, waved American flags and dressed up in red, white and blue. “Support our troops,” one woman’s shirt said. “Our hero!” several blue T-shirts read, with a picture of Sanchez on the front. Thousands of roaring bikers made their way from Grissom, some playing “God Bless The U.S.A.,” while following the procession.
But it was difficult to miss the more contemplative moments amid the flag-waving.
One woman shed tears as she watched the procession drive by. Another held her hand to her heart. “It’ll be worth the wait,” one person said to a child.
“I want to stand up for his mother and his family,” said Jan Landis, arriving to take her place on the route around 9 a.m. Sunday. “Because they shouldn’t have been put in this position. This shouldn’t have happened … should have never have happened.”
Who was Cpl. Humberto ‘Bert’ Sanchez?:22-year-old Indiana Marine among many young deaths in Afghanistan
He had “hardly even begun to live his life,” Jackson said, reflecting on her own family members who have served in the military. “He didn’t even begin to live.”
The 22-year-old had graduated from Logansport High School in 2017, playing soccer and making art in his teenage years. He worked at the town’s west side McDonald’s during high school, which has now been memorialized with a mural of him.
This is a community where “everybody knows everybody,” Chrys Fritz said, waiting for the procession to begin. Even if people didn’t know Sanchez personally, they know someone else who knew him or a family member.
“We’ve all seen him, you know,” Fritz said. “If you went to McDonald’s you knew who he was.”
“My brother (taught) his sister in school,” Landis said.
“For me, it’s like an honor because … my brother’s in (the Marines) too,” said Nancy Martin, explaining that her older brother Jesus was friends with Sanchez.
“They wanted to join together and be a part of it,” her sister, Maribel Martin, said.
“I feel bad,” their mother, Alicia Martin said in Spanish. “He’s like a son.”
Dawn Paulsson and her husband left their Valparaiso, Ind. home at 5 a.m. to set up along the procession route, on the intersection of Indiana 218 and U.S. 35. They had never before been to Logansport but this loss called to them.
“You don’t want anybody to be forgotten, you know,” Paulsson said. “The way the world’s going now, we have to remember.”
More:Funeral details announced for Humberto Sanchez, Indiana Marine killed in Afghanistan
The community will continue to honor Sanchez with events this week.
On Monday, LifeGate Church is hosting a public visitation, where people can pay their respects from 1-7 p.m.
On Tuesday, the church will host a public funeral service at 11 a.m. It will also be streamed online on his tribute page at gundrumcares.com. Sanchez will be laid to rest, with military graveside rites, at Mount Hope Cemetery in Logansport.
Contact Rashika Jaipuriar at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @rashikajpr.
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