Members of the Kokomo American Legion Golf Course are doing what they do best: putting veterans first and using golf as a vehicle to do just that.
Though he was only 22 years old, Cpl. Humberto “Bert” Sanchez was one of several Marines who passed away while serving his country at the Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 26 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Sanchez was born in Logansport, and though he died too soon, members of the American Legion in Kokomo were quick to respond.
“About two or three days after we found out he had been killed, we were at the Legion and a service member up there who had been in the Army and had been in Afghanistan, he goes, ‘We ought to try and raise a little money for his family,’” Golf Course Trustee John Bowman said.
Sanchez was a 2017 graduate of Logansport High School, and excelled as a student athlete in soccer and in the classroom.
After graduating, Sanchez enlisted and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California. He was then called to serve as an Embassy Guard in Jordan before being reassigned to the Kabul airport, according to his obituary.
Bowman said Sanchez was part of the local area and gave his life for his country, making the decision a no-brainer on a Saturday night.
That night, members donated around $500, which Bowman said quickly turned into the idea of a golf tournament in Sanchez’s honor. The members were all on board, and the plan was set in motion.
The tournament was held on Sept. 26, and the results were astounding, Bowman said.
“The turnout was just phenomenal. I mean, it blew me away,” Bowman said.
The Friday before the tournament was held, Bowman said he went on the radio with J.R. Dennis on 100.5 WWKI-FM. The plan would be $40 per golfer with several teams competing, with all the results going directly to Sanchez’s family.
By Saturday morning, Bowman said he had a total of 30 teams and 120 golfers. All $40 from each person went to the pot.
“Jerry Paul calls me last night because I was on the radio with J.R. yesterday, just kind of giving him an update. Jerry called me and he goes, ‘You said we had over $4,000,’” Bowman said. “I said I knew we’d have at least $4,000. He goes, ‘We got $8,000.’”
On top of that were combined donations from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the Kokomo Forty and Eight Voiture 1103, which totaled $10,500.
That’s a total of $18,500, just from an idea based on doing what the Legion does: backing its veterans.
“That’s what the American Legion is for. Next year is going to be our 100th anniversary at the Kokomo American Legion, and I told them, ‘Our motto for this 100th anniversary is to let people know what we do is we are vets helping vets,” Bowman said.
The doors are open for all veterans who need help, Bowman said. Bowman has been with the American Legion for more than 20 years, but even he was astonished at how Kokomo stepped up for Sanchez.
However, Kokomo has a knack for backing the community, especially the veterans, he said.
“Just like any community, everybody’s got their differences. But when it’s time to pull together for something, I mean the Kokomo community … This event went above and beyond any of my expectations. We have a very large veteran community and everybody stepped up,” Bowman said.
He said he had people coming up to the Legion just asking to donate $40, golf or not. Businesses chipped in as well, and it’s telling of how supportive Kokomo can be, he said.
The family requests memorial contributions be best expressed with a gift to the Cpl. Humberto Sanchez Memorial Scholarship Fund, through the Cass County Community Foundation Inc., P.O. Box 441, Logansport, IN 46947. Envelopes will be available.
To donate to the American Legion, simply visit https://www.legion.org and click “Donate”.