Marine Cpl. Humberto Sánchez claimed his Latino identity with his own body: He had the Mexican flag tattooed on his chest and the words “Made in Mexico” on his ribs, according to his mother.
The young Marine, 22, from Logansport, Indiana, was one of 13 service members killed last Thursday along with more than 100 Afghans in the terrorist attack outside the airport in Kabul.
“My son was 100 percent Mexican, but he loved his country, the United States,” Coral Briseño told Noticias Telemundo. “He was proud to be American but, at the same time, he was proud to be Mexican — he was proud of his roots,” she said.
Sánchez provided security for the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan and was assigned to monitor the evacuation at the airport. He was one of six Latino service members killed in the attack.
President Joe Biden met with the families of the fallen soldiers when they received their remains at Dover Air Force Base, just hours before the last military plane left the country, ending 20 years of war, the longest the U.S. has ever fought.
Briseño said that when she was asked by Biden what she needed him to do for her, she responded emphatically: “Bring all the soldiers back, because I don’t want anyone else to go through what I’m going through right now.”
Briseño last spoke to her son a few days before the attack. “He told me, ‘Mami I’m fine, I’m tired, I feel sick, I haven’t been able to eat, I haven’t slept. … They told us to sleep because we don’t know what time we are going to bring them back.'”
“I told him to be aware, to be human, to never forget that there were good people in that place … that he had to do what he could to save the lives of those people, and he told me that he was doing his job,” she said.
Briseño said that she was the one who encouraged him to join the military when he was in high school. “’Do you want me to get killed?'” her son joked, she said. But days before he graduated from high school, he came home and said he had enlisted.
“‘I want you to be proud of me, I want to be someone in life,'” Briseño said her son told her.
And that is exactly how she feels.
“I am proud of the work he did, proud to be his mother and of having raised a family man,” Briseño said.
Briseño said she would like her son to be remembered not only today or tomorrow, but in perpetuity as one of the last U.S. soldiers who died in the country’s longest war.
Gabriela Martinez, Noticias Telemundo
Gabriela Martinez writes for Noticias Telemundo.