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A hero comes home: Fallen Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez honored in return to Coachella Valley

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tI9xvrDbWAY

Cpl. Hunter Lopez honored in Coachella Valley: here’s how to attend processions & services

THURSDAY

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.

Thursday's procession route

FRIDAY

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.

Friday's procession route

"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.

SATURDAY

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.

Saturday details

Then, a procession will take Lopez to the Riverside National Cemetery where he will be laid to rest.

Corporal Hunter Lopez Biography

Hunter Lopez was killed in action on August 26, 2021 while serving as a member of the United States Marine Corps in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Born on January 15, 1999 in Palm Springs, CA., Hunter is survived by his parents, Herman and Alicia, brother Owen and sister Trinity.

Hunter dedicated his life to service and took pride in being part of organizations with a rich tradition. Prior to joining the Marine Corps, Hunter was a Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Explorer Scout from 2014-2017 for Post 507, where he obtained the rank of Captain.

Hunter served in the Marine Corps for four years; His first three years as part of the Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Company A, 5th Platoon and most recently as a member of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Golf Company, 1st Platoon, 3rd squad.

Hunter was devoted to serving others and perfecting himself in order to be the best Explorer and Marine possible. Whether at work or at home, Hunter strived for perfection, seeking knowledge and experience from those he respected and admired. When on leave, Hunter enjoyed being around family and friends and sharing his experiences with everyone. He lived life to the fullest and was often the reason why family and friends would bend over backwards to get together when he was around.

Hunter was a history buff and had many aspirations to pursue after completing his service to the country, among those was being part of a shooting and firearms company with several friends which is already underway and becoming a Deputy with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Always a fan of everything and anything Star Wars related, Hunter convinced countless friends, family and Marines to binge watch movies and would often quiz them on Star Wars trivia. As a child, Hunter shied away from photographs and it was a challenge to get him to smile in most photographs. As an Explorer Scout and especially as a Marine Hunter seemed to flourish and developed an infectious smile and amazing personality. Hunter lived a full life in a short amount of time, he impacted so many lives and has left a lasting impression on family, friends, and his brothers and sisters in arms.

Riverside County Sheriff's Department

MORE: ‘I’m just going to bring him along with every footstep that I take.’ Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez’s brother opens up about sibling’s life and final moments

https://youtu.be/m9kMmTLVTK0

KESQ News Team

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