Cover photo for Lt. Colonel Herbert Sanchez's Obituary
Lt. Colonel Herbert Sanchez Profile Photo

Lt. Colonel Herbert Sanchez

d. March 18, 2017

Obituary Image

Lt. Col. Herbert Medina Sanchez
1922 - 2017

Lt. Col. Herbert M. Sanchez, former member of the US Marine Corps and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, died at age 95 in the home of daughter and caregiver, Patti Sanchez Smith, in Murrieta, California with several family members by his side.

He is survived by 3 of his 4 children, Herbert Finlayson Sanchez, Patti F. Sanchez Smith and Kay Lani Sanchez Hobson, 18 grandchildren and 38 great-grandchildren.  Preceding him in death were his daughter, Rebecca Jessie Finalyson Sanchez Bonkosky and his loving, faithful wife of 48 years, Helen Josephine Finlayson Sanchez.

Eriberto (later changed to Herbert) Medina Sanchez, was born March 16, 1922 in the outskirts of the famous King Ranch near Corpus Christi, Texas, to Sacarias Sanchez and Maria Luisa Medina as the second oldest of 7 children.  His mother died when he was ten and he was raised by his caring Grandmother on the banks of the Rio Grande in the vicinity of Loredo, Texas.  Later he lived with his Tia Minga and Tio Bob, a police officer.

During his senior year in high school, he enlisted in the military immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and began a lifelong honorable career in the US Marine Corps.  He faced many challenges entering his new military career.  His first challenge was his limited ability to speak English (Spanish was his native language).  He devoted himself to studying English which helped him promote to Master Sergeant.  Additionally, at 5’4” at the time of his enlistment, he was the shortest marine in the USMC. To compensate for his height, he became a boxer and later remarked that although he was not as big as the other guys he moved a lot faster!  This height challenge became even more apparent when he was assigned as the Platoon Communications Specialist and had to carry a typewriter into the battlefield.  On one occasion when crossing a stream in the field, the water level was over his head, so he carried the typewriter over his head to protect the machine from the water.  Upon seeing this, the Platoon Sergeant grabbed Private Sanchez’s hand and pulled him up to breath, yelling “I don’t care about you, but I can’t lose that [expletive deleted] typewriter.”

Sergeant Sanchez survived both WWII and the Korean Conflict.  After an honorable discharge, he moved to Utah with a close friend and enrolled in the University of Utah School of Business.  There he met and married Helen Josephine Finlayson from Pocatello, Idaho. Herb graduated from the University of Utah in March of 1954 with a degree in Banking and Finance.

After marrying his university sweetheart, he returned to the military and was immediately promoted to Lt. Sanchez with a new assignment in payroll and disbursing, a position he maintained until his retirement.  This promotion distinguished Lt. Sanchez to be a Mustang – an honorary military term used to describe the rare few who entered the Marines as a Private but later became an Officer.  He continued his engagement with the military by participating in the Bay of Pigs conflict (which he referred to as the “Castro Fiasco”) and 2 more tours of duty in Vietnam.  Along the way, he managed to complete his Master’s Degree in Education.  This accomplishment qualified him to earn the rank of Lt. Colonel.

There was never any “quit” in this man who persevered through all his challenges. No matter the challenges facing him, his tenacity always overcame and conquered whatever he confronted.  Even after his military retirement, his leadership and perseverance did not go unnoticed.  He and his faithful wife were called to serve in the Sylvania GA Mission and then a Genealogy Mission in Salt Lake City and  Monterrey, Mexico.  He also served as the Branch President of the first Spanish Branch in Southern California.  His wife, Helen, who didn’t speak Spanish, stood by her husband to support him and played the piano for the branch.  They are still remembered and honored by members of that congregation.

Services will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 408 West 1300 North, Pleasant Grove, Utah 84062, Saturday, March 25, at 10:00 am.  Family visitation from 9:00 am- 9:45 am. Interment at Memorial Estates, Salt Lake City, Utah at 2:30 pm.

We found this poem our father included in his missionary biography:

Every person is a child of God and as such is entitled to a knowledge of the truth.

A diamond in the rough,
Is a diamond sure enough
And before it ever sparkled
It was made of diamond stuff.

But someone had to find it,
Or it never would be found,
And someone had to grind it
Or it never would be ground.

But when it’s found and when it’s ground
And when it’s burnished bright
That diamond’s everlastingly
Giving out it’s light!

Author Unknown

Semper Fi! (Marine Corps Motto- Semper Fidelis- Always faithful)

Funeral Recording

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