Official: Military honors option available for veteran burials

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico

Henry Sanchez loved dancing, his guitar and his harmonica, family members said. And he loved life.

“Anytime you saw him, he had a smile on his face,” daughter Veronica Goff said. “He was very patriotic and a family man.”

All of those things were mentioned at his July 24 funeral.

But there was one thing missing at his funeral. Sanchez served in the Korean War, but never received military honors.

Thursday saw that rectified with Cannon Air Force Base personnel giving him full military honors at the base entrance.

Sanchez, a retired floor covering specialist, died July 21 in Clovis. But as it was noted Thursday, he was also a corporal in the Army during the Korean War from 1950-1953.

Goff said the family simply wasn’t aware military honors were an option for her father.

Rick Robertson, who is a liaison between the retired community and base commander Col. Stephen A. Clark, said such cases aren’t unusual.

“Normally, if they’re a veteran, under federal law, he’s entitled to full military honors. Unfortunately, the law also requires the funeral home to request a full military burial. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.”

When Robertson heard Sanchez didn’t receive military honors at his funeral, he made a few moves on base — getting personnel to fold a flag for the ceremony, and acquiring a flag that flew over Cannon to give to Goff’s family.

Robertson said he hoped Thursday’s service could be a teachable moment for local veterans. He’s tried to support the effort by passing out copies of laws regarding military funeral honors to various veterans organizations.

Goff was happy the service took place, even if it happened a few weeks later with a few family members and friends present.

“I thought the ceremony was very moving,” Veronica said. “My dad would have been proud to have helped spread the word.”