The Coachella Valley community came together to honor fallen U.S. Marine and Coachella Valley native Cpl. Hunter Lopez, who died in the attack in Afghanistan, as well as Cpl. Salvador Lule, who is now recovering.
Hundreds attended an emotional vigil outside Indio City Hall Wednesday night – including members of the Lopez family, who came in person to receive the community's love and support.
Holding each other closely, Lopez's parents and siblings gathered and paid special tribute at a memorial of signs and flowers that's been growing since last week.
The National Anthem was performed and a prayer offered in Lopez's honor.
"Holy God, almighty and eternal, hear our prayers for your servant Hunter who was suddenly and violently taken from us," said Rev. Alex Gamino with OLPH Catholic Church in Indio.
Valley fire departments gave their tribute extending two trucks' ladders up into the sky, dangling an oversized American flag over the crowd.
A bell was rung once for each of the 13 U.S. service members who gave their lives in Kabul. It was Francisco Lule ringing it, father of Coachella Valley native Cpl. Salvador Lule who was injured in the Afghanistan bombing and is now recovering on the east coast.
Veterans gave their support in droves. Marine Roqui Galindo helped organize the service.
"I don't want anybody in this city to forget any of the service people that have served this country," Galindo said. "It's important; it's important to remember their sacrifice."
Eric Aldana is Hunter Lopez's uncle. He calls the time since his nephew's death "unbearable," and says more than anything, Lopez loved being a Marine.
"The only comfort I get is that he died doing what he loved," Aldana said. "It makes us happy; it makes us very happy that we're not mourning alone, that we have a lot of people that are with us, that are praying for us."
News Channel 3's Jake Ingrassia asked, "If you could talk to Hunter today what would you tell him?"
"Answer my texts," Aldana responded through tears. "I've been sending him texts. I just wish he would have answered them back."
In front of the glow of hundreds of cell phone flashlights held up in tribute, a tearful Lopez family embraced, surrounded by the love and light of the Coachella Valley. Their tight-knit group was short one person, missing a son and a brother who the valley now holds in their hearts a hero.