The body of a U.S. Marine killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan has returned home to Coachella Valley. Marine Corporal Hunter Lopez is being laid to rest this week.
Lopez, a 22-year-old Indio native, was killed in the terrorist attack at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan on August 26. It happened while people were being evacuated as the Taliban fighters took over Afghanistan. The blast killed 13 U.S. Service members, including two others from Riverside County. Those who were killed are being awarded the Purple Heart. At least 15 American service members were hurt, including Corporal Salvador Lule of Indio.
Flags line the sidewalk outside of Forest Lawn Funeral Home in Cathedral City ahead of the procession for fallen Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez. Here's how you can participate to honor the local hero: https://t.co/Yv6kZMHWnM pic.twitter.com/MqsFNPMRTC— KESQ News Channel 3 (@KESQ) September 16, 2021
People lined the sidewalks for a procession from Forest Lawn Funeral Home in Cathedral City, past the Palm Desert Sheriff's Station, and ending at St. Francis church in La Quinta.
News Channel 3 stationed crews throughout the procession route and provided reports throughout the route.
Starting 9 a.m. Friday, another procession will take Lopez past the three Desert Sands Unified schools he attended before becoming a Marine: Amelia Earhart Elementary School, John Glenn Middle School, and La Quinta High School.
"The character of that young man just shines. I'm proud to know that he was a Red Hawk and I'm proud to be a Marine along with him."Todd Biggert, principal at John Glenn Middle School
John Glenn Middle School Principal Todd Biggert said his students are gearing up to pay their respects Friday as the procession passes by. "We've got 1,100 students that are going to be lining that entryway as they come in," he said. "They've got flags; the teachers are gonna be wearing (matching memorial shirts)."
La Quinta High School Principal Dr. Rudy Wilson said his students have been hit hard by the loss. Lopez's sister, Trinity, is a senior there now.
"It's been tough," Wilson said. "We have no shortage of students who would like to show their respect and appreciation for Hunter and his family."
At a La Quinta High School volleyball game Tuesday, the team honored the Lopez family. Parents Herman and Alicia were present – Trinity Lopez is a player on the team.
Mayor of La Quinta Linda Eans said the procession was planned by Lopez's family and will be important to their healing, and the community.
"To be able to provide perhaps some closure for those students who knew him or know his brother and sister, that will be very special, for not only all of the teachers to be able to participate, but the students that are there on campus," Evans said.
After the procession past the schools Friday, Lopez will return to St. Francis in La Quinta where the public can attend a viewing.
A memorial service will be held Saturday at the Palm Springs Convention Center at 11 a.m. It's open to the public and large screens will be available to watch the ceremony.
Then, a procession will take Lopez to the Riverside National Cemetery where he will be laid to rest.