Hundreds turn out to honor Corporal Humberto Sanchez during hometown procession

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Nico Fox waved a small American flag outside a locked gate at the southwest corner of Grissom Air Reserve Base in Miami County Sunday morning.

The seven-year-old strained to see a small military jet landing in the distance bringing home a hero for the last time.

I asked Ryan Fox why he brought his son out today.

“So he understands that freedom isn’t free and he needs to understand that it’s all about the respect for the people who fought for this country,” said the dad. “It’s just a small community where everybody knows everybody and whether you’re Logansport, Peru, Royal Center, Monticello, it don’t matter where it is, Indiana is home for everybody and if you live here, you’re home.”

Marine Corporal Humberto Sanchez was coming home to Logansport, more than two weeks after he died at Hamid Karzai International Airport, attempting to evacuate Americans, Afghans and other third-country nationals in the final days of the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan.

182 people died in a suicide bombing, 13 of them were American service personnel.

One of them was a Hoosier.

“It’s a tremendous sacrifice to give your life for your country,” said John White of Elkart who waited outside Gundrum Funeral Home in Logansport for the procession to deliver the body of the fallen Marine, “and it also makes me feel it was unnecessary.”

All along the procession route from Grissom on to SR 218 and US 35, hundreds of mourners turned out to salute Sanchez and his family, flags flying and veterans standing by.

“Regardless of ages, wars, decades, whatever, it doesn’t make any difference, we’re still all brothers and sisters,” said VFW Post 1152 Commander John Meeks of Kokomo, “and that’s why we’re out here for our brother today.”

Michelle Knauff stood in silent honor not only for the Sanchez family but also her own Marine son on duty in Biloxi, Mississippi.

“We’re such a small community we do seem to know everybody and we’ve got to come together and to support his family and spread the love. We’re all family. All Marines are family.”

As the Sanchez procession entered Logansport, the coach was accompanied by thousands of motorcycle riders on the ground and four military jets flying cover up above as the coach stopped briefly at large garrison flag hanging over Market Street.

At the funeral home, the Honor Guard commander summoned 13-year-old William Raisor off his front porch where the Boy Scout sat in uniform with a small flag in hand to join the veterans who lined the driveway in a dignified salute.

I asked the boy why he was there.

“For the family and hope the family remembers this and hope that they remember that the kid was standing there and he was still and he did everything with them,” said William. “This soldier got injured and I helped and I showed respect for the military.”

Huberto Sanchez was only nine years older than Tenderfoot Scout William Raisor when he died defending the Abbey Gate at the Kabul airport.

William told me he’s in the eighth grade, good at math and science, he wants to make Eagle Scout and go to IU.

Or maybe join the military.

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