...Mark Sanchez served in the U.S. Armed Forces for a total of 18 years, Britanny Sanchez said. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1980, and then served in the Army National Guard for 10 years.
He fought in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and served in other operations throughout the United States. He obtained the rank of sergeant before being honorably discharged in 1998.
During his time in the service, Mark Sanchez was awarded the Purple Heart, but Brittany Sanchez said her dad never explained its origins.
Mark Sanchez also was a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 241 and of the AmVet Humboldt Bay Post 96, Brittany Sanchez said. He served as adjutant of the local AmVets post, and was the commander of the VFW post in McKinleyville. Mark Sanchez was a board of director for the AmVets Department of California Service Foundation, and a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Elks Lodge. He also became a legislative commissioner for the California AmVets, and was running for state commander for AmVets, according to longtime friend and former Eureka resident Lorraine Justin-Plass.
"He was involved in everything," Brittany Sanchez said. "He was kind of like a true American patriot. He was a very proud supporter of the NRA. He was a very proud supporter of all of his VFW and AmVets. AmVets is what really helped him through life."
Most recently, Mark Sanchez owned Bella Baskets in Old Town Eureka with his wife, Laurie Sanchez. In his spare time, he enjoyed hunting, fishing and being outdoors, Brittany Sanchez said.
A memorial will be held for Mark Sanchez at Ocean View Cemetery at 12 p.m. on June 24. There will be a motorcycle escort and 21-gun salute, Justin-Plass said. It is open to the public.
Various groups are now trying to make Mark Sanchez's wish come true (to bring Wall that Heals — a traveling half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. — back to the North Coast for the first time in 30 years). It will cost $12,000 to bring the wall. People can donate to the cause by visiting ◼ www.giveforward.com, and typing "Vietnam War Remembrance Wall" into the search bar. Or, people can call Wall Of Remembrance founder JR Nichols at 714-609-0765.