LOGANSPORT, Ind. — Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto “Bert” Sanchez often talked about the things he planned to do when he finished his five-year enlistment.
One of those plans included the possibility of enlisting in the Air Force, where he would continue to serve his country while hopefully obtaining skills to pursue a career in an electrical trade. In another thought he shared with family, Sanchez said he was also considering enrolling in college and moving back home.
On Aug. 26, one of the deadliest days for American forces in the past decade, Sanchez, a Logansport native, and 12 other U.S. service members were among more than 100 people killed when a suicide bomber carried out an attack at the airport in Kabul.
“He had such a beautiful soul,” said Carol Sanchez, Bert’s sister. “A lot of times when I was going through something, sometimes all I needed was just a hug from my brother because he was like my partner in everything.”
“Even though I hated that he was away because I just wanted him close, I was very proud of him for everything he was doing,” she continued. “Even when he didn’t try, he was just amazing at everything he did. Everything.”
His mother, Coral Briseno, added, “He was one of those people that you want to be around all the time no matter what the situation was. He was just happy.”
Following the attack, Briseno said she received an alert in the middle of the night informing her of what happened. Although there was no information at that time to indicate her 22-year-old son was among those injured or killed, she said she already knew.
“My heart told me that he was one of them. I even texted my husband and said, ‘My heart is coming out of my chest.’
“I knew he was guarding one of the doors. He told me that last Monday. I knew he was there, and since he was not online, that means he was working.”
It was a knock at the family’s door the next day that confirmed the worst news imaginable.
“That night they [Marines] came to my house. My husband opened the door, and I just asked him, ‘Are they dressed — fully dressed?’ He told me yes,” Briseno shared through tears. “I was still expecting them to say your son is back in the states or is coming, but they told me, ‘Sorry for your loss.’
“You never want to see Marines at your door. You never want to see them knocking at your door and knowing that your kid is there.”
For days, Briseno said she couldn’t sleep because she didn’t know what happened or what her son was doing at the time of the attack.
It was a call from one of Bert’s friends who was there with him that provided her with clarity of his heroic actions in his final moments. It was that conversation where her pride for her son grew even greater than she ever thought it could.
“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.’
“It just made me so proud. At that moment, he probably remembered the words that I said to him that prior Monday. I said, ‘Papi, they are good people, and they are humans, and they just want to get out of there. Do what you can to help people.”
At that moment, Briseno said, Bert wasn’t thinking about himself. He was thinking of others. She said words can’t explain how proud she is of her son.
“He told me that he was ready, he was strong, he was prepared, and he was ready to go ahead and do his duty. He probably knew that he was not going to come back,” Briseno said.
It was a risk she said Bert knew he was taking when he took the Oath of Enlistment in 2017.
“He decided to join the Marines and said he wants to do that for me because I want him to be somebody in life and on his own will,” said Briseno.
During his time in service, the Marine was stationed overseas in Spain and several parts of the Middle East, including Jordan and Afghanistan.
In an interview Sunday with a fellow Marine and close friend of Bert’s, Cpl. JJ Leota shared the two served together in Spain and stateside.
“Alpha 4, we called him ‘Bert the Squirt.’ I don’t know how that nickname came to be, but that’s just what we called him,” he said, laughing. “He always brought a smile to your face, no matter what the situation was.”
Bresino said, “Even when I was mad at him, I was trying to be strong, and he would get the way out by making me laugh and would say, ‘I am Bert the Squirt.'”
Family members say he had the ability to light up any room he walked into. It’s many stories like that Bresino is now hearing from Marines who served with Bert and friends who have reached out.
“There’s so many friends that said, ‘I am a better person because of Bert. I am a better man. In my darkest moments, he was there checking on me, looking out for me,'” said Bresino.
“What he was gonna do in his whole life, he did it in this short period, and he was ready. He was a happy, happy kid, and we are gonna hear more stories about him impacting people’s life,” said Bresino.
Sanchez hopes people will never forget who her brother was or the joy he embraced every day.
How you can help:
A GoFundMe, the Corporal Humberto Sanchez Family Fund, has been created. For those interested in reading more about the fund or donating, you can visit the link here.
The Logansport community, where Bert graduated from Logansport High School in 2017, and beyond is finding ways to show its support for Bert’s family.
On Monday, a memorial fund account was set up at the Security Federal Bank in honor of Bert. The idea began with a local business owner.
Jerry Arnold, owner of Arnold’s Fine Jewelry and Gifts, told CBS4 he never expected any of the fallen service members in the Kabul attack to be from Logansport.
“It just kind of hits ya, you know. So, our community is pretty tight knit for the most part, and lots of people donate, and lots of people support our business, so I would like to give back when I can, so this is just one way,” said Arnold.
To kickstart the fundraising efforts, Arnold put forth $1,000 on behalf of his business. He said the Boardwalk Café owners also donated $1,000.
“There’s some other places in town, of course, lots of folks that I’ve seen on Facebook on my thread saying they’re going to donate. I think it’s already got a good start going,” said Arnold.
The account has officially been created under the “Humberto Sanchez Memorial Fund.”
CBS4 reached out to the Security Federal Bank, who confirmed those interested in donating can visit any of the bank’s branches to donate in person.
There are locations in Logansport, Kokomo, Delphi, Lafayette and West Lafayette.
Additionally, if you are unable to make it in person but still wish to donate, checks can be made out to the Humberto Sanchez Memorial Fund and mailed to P.O. Box 420, Logansport, IN, 46947.
At this time, there is no link to donate online to this fund. If that changes, we will update this information.
All funds raised will go directly to the family of the Marine.