LOGANSPORT, Ind. – There is not much society or the country can say to the family of fallen Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto Sanchez – except thank you.
“Everyone here owes that family a gratitude,” Becky Jackson said as she stood at the center of Logansport, waiting for a military parade to bring Sanchez home. “They brought the ultimate sacrifice. They gave everything. They gave their son … You can’t put into words how you feel. You just feel like you have to show the family that we honor their sacrifice.”
On Sunday afternoon, the Hoosiers showed up – and they showed up in droves – to catch a glimpse of the fallen navy’s parade and shelf. Sanchez died during an attack in the last days of “America’s Longest War” in Afghanistan along with 12 other U.S. service members.
The procession brought Sanchez home a route of almost 20 kilometers, starting at Grissom Air Force Base along US 31 north of Kokomo, traveling northwest through Indiana’s back roads and arriving at Logansport – the place where he was born and raised, and now, will be buried.
Hundreds of people lined up along the roads of the city with about 18,000, many near a ceremonial garrison flag, hoisted about 75 feet by two fire trucks. Several law enforcement agencies, including the Indiana State Police and the Logansport Police Department, escorted a hearse with Sanchez to Gundrum Funeral Home. Rows and rows of motorcycles, some said thousands, followed on their way.
“This turnout right here today is all you need to know about the Logansport community,” said Michael Bowditch, waiting with Cindy Bowditch, his wife and their four children. “I’m proud of what I can see here.”
The ceremony included both high patriotism and quiet reflection, some characters being bold while others were more subtle.
People across generations, including school-age children, waved American flags and dressed in red, white, and blue. “Support our troops,” said a woman’s shirt. “Our hero!” several blue T-shirts read with a picture of Sanchez on the front. Thousands of roaring cyclists made their way from Grissom, some playing “God Bless The USA” as they followed the procession.
But it was hard to miss the more contemplative moments in the middle of the flag.
A woman cried tears as she watched the procession pass by. Another held her hand to her heart. “It will be worth the wait,” one person told a child.
“I want to stand up for his mother and his family,” Jan Landis said, arriving to take her place on the route around 6 p.m. 9 Sunday. “Because they should not have been put in this position. This should not have happened … should never have happened.”
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He had “almost not even begun to live his life,” Jackson said, reflecting on her own family members who have served in the military. “He did not even begin to live.”
The 22-year-old was educated from Logansport High School in 2017, play football and make art in his teens. He worked on the city’s west side of McDonald’s during high school, which has now been commemorated a mural of him.
This is a community where “everyone knows everyone,” said Chrys Fritz, waiting for the procession to begin. Although people did not know Sanchez personally, they do 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.
“To me, it’s like an honor because … my brother is also in (the Navy),” Nancy Martin said, explaining that her big brother Jesus was friends with Sanchez.
“They wanted to join together and be a part of it,” said her sister, Maribel Martin.
“I’m sick,” said their mother, Alicia Martinez, in Spanish. “He’s like a son.”
Dawn Paulsson and her husband left their Valparaiso, Ind. Home at 5 to establish themselves along the procession route, at the intersection of Indiana 218 and US 35. They had never been to Logansport before, but this loss called for them.
“You do not want anyone to be forgotten, you know,” Paulsson said. “The way the world is going now, we must remember.”
The community will continue to honor Sanchez with events this week.
On Monday, LifeGate Church hosts a public visitation where people can pay their respects from 13-19
On Tuesday, the church will host a public funeral service at 11 It will also be streamed online on his tribute page at. gundrumcares.com. Sanchez will be buried with military rituals at the tomb of Mount Hope Cemetery in Logansport.