LOGANSPORT, Ind. — The family of U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto “Bert” Sanchez always knew he was a hero but now people everywhere do, too.
The 22-year-old from Logansport was one of 13 U.S. service members killed in a suicide attack at the airport in Kabul in late August. In an interview with FOX59 days after his family was given the life-changing news, Sanchez’s mother, Coral Briseño, shared what she learned about his final act of heroism.
“One of his friends reached out to me. He was there,” said Briseño.
“He said, ‘Your son is one brave man. We knew that we had to evacuate the door, the Abbey Gate, and he was taking all of the kids out of the kids out of the gate. He was saving all of those kids first,'” said Briseño. “At that moment he was not thinking of himself. He was thinking of others.”
Sanchez’s family shared memories of the young man they said was always happy and could light up any room he walked into.
They’re confident they will continue to hear many more stories of his impact on others, and while they welcome those, they also ask the community to continue honoring him and never allow his memory to be forgotten.
Those in Logansport and far beyond are already honoring that wish.
On Sunday, thousands lined up along a route from Grissom Air Force Base to Logansport, where Sanchez’s body was escorted to back to the small northern Indiana community in a homecoming fit for a hero.
“To see people openly weeping, not just crying, but weeping, and their hands to their hearts, little guys on the side of the road saluting as the bikes and the casket went by — it was — that was America,” said Misty Frost, president and executive director of the One Warrior Foundation.
Frost, who is the daughter of a Marine and raising a Marine, who has dreamed of enlisting since he was a little boy, said the USMC has always been tremendous to their foundation, which was built out of the need to bring veteran’s resources to Cass County. She said when they heard a local Marine was killed in action, they knew that they needed to step up and help.
Frost has been working closely with Sanchez’s family to help with any resources they may need, but also to assist in the coordination of his homecoming and services.
She said they expected a great turnout during Sunday’s procession, but what actually happened was even more extraordinary than what most people could have imagined.
“One thing that maybe the general public doesn’t know is bikers love veterans, most bikers are veterans and so they came out in droves. They wanted to make sure the family knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they were loved and that they were honored,” she said.
What was expected to be up to a few thousand bikers with motorcycle clubs riding with the Patriot Guard ended up being close to 10,000. That doesn’t even include those lined up along the route to pay their respects.
Frost said, “That is what we needed to see yesterday and that’s what happened and so regardless of what happens from here on out, yesterday will be a day that lives on in infamy because that was what he deserved.”
Leading the procession was Logansport Police Department Chief Travis Yike, a veteran who served in the U.S. Army for almost eight years. But he wasn’t alone.
Two LPD members, who are Marine veterans and the department’s assistant chief, who also served in the U.S. Army, helped lead the procession that would stretch for more than 11 miles.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our community to witness what we witnessed yesterday with the outpour of citizens that came out all the way from Grissom Air Force Base, who are lined up at the gate, all the way the entire route into Logansport up to the funeral home,” said Yike.
Frost said she encouraged people who wanted to partake in the procession to line the route.
“Go out and buy flags, any flags, as many as you can find and line the streets,” she said. “That’s exactly what people did. It was phenomenal.”
Yike said it was overwhelming to see the amount of support offered by not only local Hoosiers, but people from all over, including countless veterans.
“It’s hard to put into words. Driving and seeing the hundreds and hundreds of people that were standing out there waving American flags in a show of support, and just to see people just in tears for the life that was lost not even knowing this young man.”
He said along the route, he caught a glimpse of a woman standing alone, outside of her car, with her hand over her heart. The quiet act, spoke volumes.
“Seeing that woman on the side of the road just standing outside her car in tears, you know it, it humbles you and puts everything into perspective,” said Yike.
Just one day before the procession for Cpl. Sanchez, the Logansport Police Department hosted a memorial run in remembrance of the lives lost on 9/11. They also recognized Sanchez’s family, who was in attendance.
“To be able to be a part of that and then watching the community come back together after that tragedy is amazing,” said Yike.
There was a steady flow of attendees throughout the day Monday, as services for Cpl. Sanchez continued, with a visitation at the LifeGate Church from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
From the street, yellow ribbons tied around telephone poles could be observed gently waving in the wind, while dozens of American flags lined the walkway to the congregation where people came to pay their respects to the fallen Marine and his loved ones.
From civilians in the Logansport community to the men and women in first responder attire, individuals dressed in their dress blues, and bikers in leather vests that proudly showed they served our nation, the line was nonstop throughout the afternoon.
In the room where family gathered was a collection of work from local students at the elementary schools in Logansport. Perhaps this is a true example of how the community will hold its promise to ensure Sanchez’s memory is never forgotten.
The One Warrior Foundation told FOX59 students of all ages made these beautiful creations, along with four more boxes of ‘thank you’ cards.
“Your little fingerprints touched SO many hearts today,” the foundation shared on Facebook.
Frost said the events of the last few days are a reminder of the young children in the community who are learning about this young hero, and will grow up knowing who Cpl. Humberto “Bert” Sanchez was.
“Those kids that were standing along that route yesterday and they were watching their parents salute this fallen Marine, and they were watching their parents with that flag, that’s what they’re learning,” said Frost.
She said, “It doesn’t matter what the schools teach them. What are they learning at home? That’s what he learned at home, was to be courageous and strong and brave and that’s what he gave to our nation.”
After working with Sanchez’s family the last few weeks, Frost said she understands where he got his strength — his mom.
“That woman is so strong. That woman, she’s got a heart and it’s just as big as the world, but it is made out of steel,” said Frost. “That’s what she passed down to that son of hers and that’s why he was able to stand that line when maybe nobody else really would’ve wanted to be there.”
For those who would like to pay their respects to Cpl. Sanchez and his family, the community is encouraged to line the route as he is escorted to his final resting place on Tuesday following a funeral service.
The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. at the LifeGate Church, 831 Burlington Ave. in Logansport and a short procession will follow. This is the route, according to the Indiana State Police.
– Life Gate Church (831 Burlington Ave, Logansport),
– North or left on Burlington to Garrison Flag at Cliff Street., continue north to Market Street
– East or right on Market Street, to 6th Street.
– North or left on 6th Street. to Hanna Street.
– East or right on Hanna to Pleasant Hill.
– North or left on Pleasant Hill to Grant Street (Mt. Hope cemetery).
There will also be a garrison flag positioned at Burlington and Cliff Streets, ISP said. The procession will stop at this location for about 30 seconds.