SATELLITE BEACH — Army Sgt. Robert Sanchez left a legacy of leadership, loyalty and living “his life for others.”
Those were the recurring themes Friday as friends and family members eulogized Sanchez and paid their final respects at a memorial service at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Satellite Beach.
A graveside service with full military honors followed at Florida Memorial Gardens in Rockledge.
Sanchez, 24, of Satellite Beach was killed Oct.1 in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, when his unit was attacked with a roadside bomb. Six other soldiers were injured.
Fellow Army Ranger and friend Sgt. Ed Ward, who delivered a eulogy, said he wanted people to know that family and friends appreciated the outpouring of community support he had seen.
“It was one of the most difficult tasks of my life, but it was an honor,” he said of the eulogy as he stood before others packed inside Trinity Presbyterian and stood in the foyer for the memorial service for Sanchez.
Ward, who also accompanied Sanchez’s body back to Satellite Beach, said he and Sanchez became friends after they served together for much of their careers.
“He had an uncanny ability to leave an impression on everyone he met,” he said.
Sanchez’s brother, Jacob Goldberg, drew laughs with his eulogy, joking about being tormented by his brother for beating him at video games. Others chuckled when hearing how Sanchez would walk on his hands with his bent over legs dangling.
Cousin Zack Monninger said Sanchez was prepared for a military career since he was a child. He achieved that goal and became an Army Ranger.
“We will always remember him as the life of the party,” Monninger said. “He put family and friends above all.”
Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Votel said Sanchez was obviously up to the challenge of being an Army Ranger, an elite special operations unit.
Sanchez joined the Army in July 2004 right after graduating from Satellite High. He earned several medals and became a leader in his unit.
“He was truly the heart of the platoon,” Votel
“Where do we find men like Robert Sanchez?” he asked. “Right here in front of me, they come from communities like these throughout the country.”
Airmen and other service members from Patrick Air Force Base lined up near the base’ south gate as the funeral procession went by from the church service to the burial site at Florida Memorial Gardens in Rockledge.
At a section of the cemetery, an American Flag and a Ranger flag flew at half-staff. Small American flags planted in the ground marked the short path the Ranger pallbearers took to the gravesite.
A 21-gun volley echoed and taps pierced the silence, before the Army honor guard meticulously folded the American flag. One was presented to Sanchez’s mother, Wendy Holland, and another to his grandmother, Mary Wilson.
Army Chaplain Maj. Dave Bowlus encouraged everyone to help family and friends cope with the loss. He said Sanchez will be remembered for his selfless dedication.
Sanchez was on his fifth deployment. He served three in Iraq and was on his second in Afghanistan when he was killed.
“He died doing exactly what he felt he needed to do,” Bowlus said.
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