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In Memoriam: Sgt. Robert D. Sanchez

Someone I grew up with in grade school recently hit headlines again in our hometown.  

He grew up from the kid who joked around as a goofball to everyone and even had his own share of crude nicknames we all shared for fun, into an Army Sergeant who served five tours of duty, three in Iraq and two in Afghanistan.  

On Oct. 1, during combat with insurgents, he was killed by an improvised explosive device.  

In a way, it is surreal because as Americans, dealing with news every day for the last eight years about wars overseas, we have become desensitized to the news of our men and women dying.  

A death close to home does a lot to bring that back into perspective, especially for all of us who were lucky enough to have known him for any period of time, and unfortunate for all of those who didn’t have the opportunity to meet him but otherwise would have if things played out differently.

Rest in peace Sgt. Robert Sanchez.

He died fighting for a cause and doing his duty.  

Anyone, pro-military or anti-war, can respect a person who stands by his or her decision to be part of something more than themselves.  We are a society that favors a life lived vicariously through the smoke screen of anonymity or by focusing on those who pay more attention to the lives of cultural icons and celebrities than their own.  It is a selfish society where many don’t take any responsibility for themselves or their actions, and instead live on the coattails of others’ generosity, or the hand-outs of a government these individuals neither respect nor know anything about.

Even for those of us who are motivated to participate in society cannot say that we have to deal with the same pressures in our work as a professional soldier. Most of us don’t have to worry about not coming home at the end of the day.  Nor will our superiors ever look at us with the same level of respect when the time to part ways arrives.

“Sgt. Sanchez epitomized the spirit and ethos of the Ranger Regiment,” said Col. Michael E. Kurilla, commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment. “He is a hero to our nation, our Army and his family.”

“Sgt. Sanchez was the quintessential Ranger, enthusiastic, smart, loyal to his mission, his country and his friends,” said Col. Brian Mennes, First Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment Battalion commander. “He led with distinction and would want us to continue supporting the efforts for which he so humbly and selfishly dedicated his life.”

For all us who grew up with him in English, Science, or Math, to the many that joined his life after high school, we will miss you, Rob.  You did what most of us wouldn’t by enlisting, and even fewer by sticking with it.

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