SANTA ANA PUEBLO, NM, US
U.S. Marine Corps
LCPL, E CO, 2D BN, 4TH MAR, 1ST MAR DIV, MCB CAMP PENDLETON, CA
01/21/2007, AL ASAD, IRAQ
Emilian Sanchez, a 20-year old Santa Ana Pueblo native died from injuries suffered from combat action in Al-Anbar, Iraq. At a memorial service, dressed in the traditional American Indian garb of their tribe, dozens of Lance Corporal Emilian D. Sanchez’s relatives lined up to approach his memorial.
Sometimes alone and sometimes in twos or threes, Sanchez’s siblings and cousins, aunts and uncles, slowly approached and sprinkled a grayish substance around his boots.
“It’s an offering, a blessing for his spirit,” said Sanchez’s older brother Joey.
As he spoke, his sister stood near the memorial, crying and clutching a piece of pottery.
Corporal Daniel A. Murillo, who once called 21-year-old Sanchez his roommate, said his friend carried eagle feathers with him to Iraq.
“He hid them away, but then he always showed them off,” Murillo said. “He was so proud of his culture.”
The 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines — commonly known as the 2/4 — set sail aboard a Navy ship in September. The battalion served as the landing team for the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. About a month later, they found themselves heading to Iraq.
In February, a Camp Pendleton spokesman confirmed that the battalion was one of two Camp Pendleton-based units affected by President Bush’s decision to increase American force levels in Iraq. The 2/4 was tapped to stay in the war zone an additional few weeks.
Speaking to the families of the fallen as he stood in front of the battalion he commands, Lt. Col. Jim Glynn offered words of comfort.
“Your Marine … did not die alone,” Glynn said. “He was surrounded daily by the brothers who stand before you today.”
Sanchez was assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable, and had been in the Marine Corps since July 2005. His unit, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., arrived in Anbar province in late November.