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Fallen Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez honored at La Quinta childhood schools

The second of three days of memorial events to honor Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez is underway.

Cpl. Lopez was killed in Afghanistan and is being laid to rest this week.

A somber procession on Friday morning is bringing his remains past his childhood schools: Amelia Earhart Elementary School, John Glenn Middle School, and La Quinta High School.

It will return to St. Francis of Assisi for viewing from noon - 7 p.m. before Saturday's memorial and burial.

Amelia Earhart Elementary School

At Amelia Earhart Elementary, school pictures of Cpl. Lopez taken during his younger years lined the sidewalks, flanked by American flags that represent the school community.

"On behalf of Amelia Earhart Elementary School of International Studies, we want to extend our condolences to the Lopez Family. Corporal Hunter Lopez, an Earhart Explorer, made an immeasurable impact on the lives of many children, our community and the Country at large. There are approximately 900 flags flying on our campus this morning that represent that impact. The smallest flags represent each child on campus, the medium flags represent each staff member who does their best to educate our future citizens and the largest flag represents our Country. All are parts of a whole: One child, one school, one Country together in honor of a Marine who gave his life for our Country. Rest in Peace, Corporal Hunter Lopez. You will live in our hearts and memory forever."

Amelia Earhart Elementary School Principal Ann Morales

John Glenn Middle School

La Quinta High School

News Channel 3 has crews along the route of the procession. We will be bringing youlive reports on News Channel 3 at Noon and beyond.

Thursday afternoon, the body of the fallen Marine was greeted by his family, military, law enforcement, and dignitaries.

You can watch that here:

In the evening, hundreds lined the streets of Cathedral City, Palm Desert, and La Quinta to honor Cpl. Lopez as the procession made its way to the church on Washington Street.


Starting 9 a.m. Friday, another procession is taking 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.


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

The parents of Hunter Lopez issued a statement in the days following the Afghanistan attack.

"Last week, we received the news that no parent wants to receive; our dear son, United States Marine Corps Corporal Hunter Lopez, was killed along with 12 others during the U.S.led evacuation effort at the Kabul airport.

Our family is overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and condolences we've received in the wake of Hunter's sudden passing.  We want to send out a huge thank you to everyone who has donated to the Riverside County Deputy Sheriff Relief Foundation in the name of Hunter and the family, prayed, or reached out to us during one of the most challenging times in our lives.  Please know that Hunter wore the United States Marine uniform with love and pride, and it is very apparent that the community will never forget his sacrifice and our family.

We are grateful to those who have paid tribute to Hunter by sending us bouquets of flowers, posting so many heartfelt messages on social media, or otherwise sharing in our sadness as well as the celebration of his short but incredible life. We wish we could thank all of you individually, but that would be nearly impossible, as there has been an overwhelming amount of people helping us. Whether checking on us, praying, making donations in Hunter's honor, we will forever be thankful for all of you.

So many people told us that they couldn't find the right words to express their sympathy. We, likewise, realized that there were no words to express our deep level of appreciation adequately. We have only two words for everyone: Thank You. "

- Lopez family

The Riverside Sheriff's Association has set up a donation page. Click here to donate.

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing coverage.

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Madison Weil

Madison Weil joined the KESQ News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 News Team in June 2018. Learn more about Madison here.

KESQ News Team


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