Sanchez, 22, had been sent to guard one of the gates outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul last Thursday when an ISIS-K suicide bomber blew himself up, killing Sanchez, 12 other U.S. service members and 169 Afghans.
Sanchez’s mother, Coral Briseño, who lives in Logansport, Ind., told FOX 59 she had known her son was helping guard Kabul’s airport as people were being evacuated. When Marines came to the family’s house a few days later, she feared the worst.
“My husband opened the door, and I just asked him, ‘Are they dressed – fully dressed?’ He told me yes,” Briseño told the station. “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.’”
Those who were serving with Sanchez in his final moments told Briseño that her son he was brave until the very end. She recounted one of his fellow Marines who told her: “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 gate. He was saving all of those kids first.”
“My heart broke when I heart that,” Briseño told the Cullman Times. “My kid was a hero. He cared about others. That’s something that comes from inside. I taught him that, but it was because of him that more kids are alive and have a future.”
Sanchez had planned to either enlist in the Air Force, where he could obtain the skills necessary to pursue a career in an electrical trade, or move home and go to college.
Those who knew him – family members and fellow Marines alike – spoke fondly of Sanchez, saying he had the ability to light up a room.
“He had such a beautiful soul,” Sanchez’s sister, Carol Sanchez, said. “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.”