Hunter Lopez Saber Vigil & Gold Star Monument Unveiling Set for Aug. 26
LA QUINTA — This community will honor Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, who lost his life during the August 2021 Afghanistan withdrawal with a saber vigil. U.S. Army Staff Sgt. James Perez will also be remembered.
The event takes place on Saturday, Aug. 26 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the Civic Center Campus, 78495 Calle Tampico in La Quinta.
“Last year, the city of La Quinta authorized the funds to commission a Gold Star Monument to honor the lives of our Nation’s service members who gave their lives while serving our great Country,” La Quinta City Councilmember Steve Sanchez wrote on social media, “We pray we do not have to add any more names to this monument.…I hope you, your family, and your friends are able to attend.”
The ceremony will start with a candlelight vigil to honor and remember U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Lopez and the 12 service members killed in Kabul, Afghanistan on this date in 2021.
The dedication of the new Gold Star Family Monument will immediately follow the candlelight vigil, according to Joy Miedecke, president of East Valley Republican Women Patriots. The monument was completed in May 2023 and honors the La Quinta families of military members who gave their lives while serving their country. The first two names on the monument are Cpl. Lopez and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. James Perez.
The deadly attack on the international airport in Kabul on Aug. 26, 2021 was felt at the core of the Coachella Valley as news broke that a local man was among the 13 U.S. service members killed during the bomb attack, according to the Riverside Sheriff’s Association.
The Marine Corps said 11 of the 13 Americans killed were Marines. One was a Navy sailor and one an Army soldier.
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, was from a family with roots in the Coachella Valley. He is the son of two Riverside County Sheriff’s Department employees.
“We are heartbroken to hear this sad news about Hunter, who chose to follow a life of service, selflessness, courage and sacrifice, like his parents,” the news release reads.
The sheriff’s association said that Hunter Lopez was a Riverside Sheriff’s Explorer Scout with the Palm Desert Station from September 2014 to August 2017. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines and was planning on joining the sheriff’s department when he returned from deployment, according to a news release at the time.
James Gregory Perez was born on Nov. 19, 1988, in Indio. He died on Aug. 5, 2017. Perez graduated from La Quinta High School with his same treasured friends since kindergarten. James left his imprint playing rugby, wrestling and football.
James went on to join the United States Army and became an Airborne Ranger. In a short time he established lasting friendships. In spite of being wounded in Afghanistan he continued to serve his country.
James was loved by those lucky enough to be his family and friends. He was the cherished son of Debbie Schnell Alvarez Garcia and Luis (Vivian) Perez
For more information, please call (760) 777-7093.
Monument photos courtesy of La Quinta City Councilmember Steve Sanchez.
- Hunter Lopez: RSO Facebook
- 2023-Hunter-Lopez-Monument-800×568-1: La Quinta City Councilmember Steve Sanchez