Dozens of people along with police cars and fire engines flashing their lights waited at the Palm Desert Sheriff’s Station Thursday to pay their respects to U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez of Indio, one of 13 service members killed in last month’s bombing in Afghanistan.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department began a three-day remembrance ceremony Thursday for Lopez, who died at age 22. The remembrance began with a procession and will continue with a public viewing Friday and a memorial service Saturday.
Lopez and 12 other service members died Aug. 26 in a suicide bombing at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, amid the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
Thursday’s procession began at 5:30 p.m. at Forest Lawn in Cathedral City, passed the Palm Desert Sheriff’s Station and ended at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Community in La Quinta.
American flags were placed along the route.
“We’re lucky enough to be here because of a lot of young men like that,” Lloyd Chaisson told The Desert Sun while waiting on the route. He told the newspaper he came to pay his respects as a Vietnam veteran because he had a lot of friends who never made it home.
Friday’s public viewing will begin with a procession at 9 a.m. from St. Francis of Assisi and will travel past the three schools Lopez attended — Amelia Earhart Elementary School and John Glenn Middle School, both in Indio, and La Quinta High School. The procession will then loop back to St. Francis of Assisi, where there will be a public viewing from noon to 7 p.m.
The memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Palm Springs Convention Center. Sheriff’s officials said the Oasis Room in the convention center will be open to the public to watch the service on video screens to comply with COVID regulations.
The service will be live streamed on the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department YouTube and Facebook pages.
A total of 1,000 members of the public will be permitted to attend, and masks will be required.
At the service’s conclusion, a procession will go from the convention center to Riverside National Cemetery where Lopez will be buried.
Lopez was the son of Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Alicia Lopez and Capt. Herman Lopez. According to the Riverside Sheriff’s Association, Hunter Lopez was a Riverside County sheriff’s Explorer Scout at the Palm Desert Station from September 2014 to August 2017, and planned to become a sheriff’s deputy upon his return from Afghanistan.
“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,” the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. “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.”