This story was updated to correct the attribution of the quotes from the graveside service. They were made by Blake Campbell, U.S. Air Force chaplain of Grissom Air Reserve Base.
Solemnly making their way from LifeGate Church to their vehicles, nearly 1,000 Marines, family members, friends and other military service members wiped tears and spoke in whispers.
It was a somber occasion made humbling by the hundreds of people lining the path to Mount Hope Cemetery on Sept. 14. With flags flying high and salutes from the sidelines by veterans standing at attention, the hearse carrying Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. “Bert” Sanchez to his final resting place paused for 30 seconds under the garrison flag at Burlington Avenue and Cliff Street.
Once back in motion on the steady drive, motorcycle riders from the Patriot Guard reverberated down the roads as Sanchez’s mother, Coral Briseño, and her family followed close by. Slowly entering the cemetery — where more than 1,000 people waited on the fallen Marine and his family to pay respects — the casket was transferred to a horse-drawn carriage.
With the Pipes and Drums of Lake County Sheriff’s Department leading the procession, military men and women stood in salute as Indiana Carriage of Indianapolis pulled up and stopped near the Marines who would lift the casket and carry Sanchez to his gravesite.
With shock and sorrow etched on her face, Briseño remained strong for her family. When she needed support, her family’s arms were there to hold her up.
As she took a seat accompanied by her children, a soft hush fell over the crowd as Blake Campbell, U.S. Air Force chaplain of Grissom Air Reserve Base, uttered these words in acknowledgement of Sanchez: “Here I am. Send me.”
Like Isaiah, who heard the Lord ask, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Sanchez “heard a call, and he answered with ‘send me,’” said Campbell.
Sanchez’s service took him to the Middle East, where he fought to defend America’s ways and protect those who were seeking the same desires. He gave his life so children of Afghanistan would one day know peace.
And in the midst of his selfless heroism, Sanchez helped thousands escape over the gate at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. But when a suicide bomber blew up the area with 25 pounds of explosives, Sanchez and 12 other military service members — along with more than 180 Afghans — lost their lives.
At last, Logansport’s fallen hero was laid to rest.
He will no longer know a temporary home, whether a house or a military tent, said Campbell. “He has a forever home in Heaven.”
“What we experience in this life is a shadow of more to come,” he continued. “Death is a transition in life, much like orders for a mission. So, we don’t grieve without hope.”
Nodding to the family, Campbell said, “We remain, always faithful,” as the Marine Corps League, chartered under the U.S. Marine Corps, performed military graveside rites, with the Marine Corps giving a 21-gun salute.
With the last gunfire echoing in the distance, the playing of taps began. Then, two of Sanchez’s fellow Marines folded a garrison flag as an American Huey 369 from the Grissom Air Reserve Base Museum roared through the skies.
And as Pastor Zack Szmara of The Bridge spoke final words to the family, reminding them to “let your hearts not be troubled, trust in Jesus,” Sanchez’s mother accepted the flag with the only response a mother could give on this day.