By Cortez Fields
Luis Sanchez has been in Lake Havasu City for 42 years, and he’s dedicated almost every part of it to helping the Lake Havasu City community.
Luis Sanchez is originally from El Paso, Texas. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1968, and served for nine years, during which he was stationed Nellis Air Force base in Las Vegas, Nev. After he was honorably discharged, he started working for McCulloch Chainsaws and moved to Lake Havasu City.
Sanchez worked for McCulloch until his retirement when the company eventually was relocated from Havasu. After he retired, Sanchez quickly became part of the wider community.
A Dedication to Service
The Air Force veteran started working for Hospice of Havasu from 2010-2017. While he was there, he worked within the veterans’ program of Hospice. The program acknowledges and thanks veterans for their service before they reach the full hospice stage. If they choose to take part in the program, the veteran is given a ceremony in which they are awarded a certificate for their service in whichever specific branch in which they served.
The ceremony can include family and friends or be a smaller ceremony with a select few. The care team and a Chaplain perform the ceremony for the veteran. Sanchez helped to publicize the program and get it featured in the local news.
“He just wanted to make sure the veterans were thanked for their service,” Simon Sanchez, his son said.
It was for that service that Luis Sanchez was honored by his family Saturday afternoon.
“I started honoring the veterans for hospice … I met a man that was with Gen .Patton … he was his typist. He said Patton came up to a group he was with and asked if anyone could type. He said there weren’t a lot of guys that typed back then,” Luis Sanchez said.
He said the man told him he sheepishly raised his hand, took kind of typing test and Patton said, “You’re with me from now on.”
“Later, when I was sitting at the back of the funeral home and I thought what a shame it was that nobody knew. Our history is going down – being buried. No one knows what this man did or when he did it,” Luis Sanchez said.
That’s when he said he went to Hospice of Havasu and discussed the program to honor veterans.
“The problem is, they only last a little while after they go to hospice. So I joined the American Legion and suggested that we honor our veterans that way – by telling their stories,” Luis Sanchez said.
He said any veteran who has a story or if loved ones what to tell their story, they should contact the United States Library of Congress and that organization will ut their story on tape.
Luis Sanchez said he was completely surprised by his family’s celebration Saturday. “I just thought we were going to lunch.”
“Luis Sanchez was instrumental in Hospice of Havasu’s participation in the “We Honor Veteran’s” program which is a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Without Luis’s efforts and enthusiasm, we could not have honored the many veteran patients we have since we started participating in the program in 2015,” Hospice of Havasu executive director Dan Matthews said.
“The passion Luis feels for his veteran brothers and sisters was palpable at each and every recognition he led us in. His gratitude for what each veteran sacrificed was heartfelt, sincere and genuine. We are extremely grateful for Luis’s contribution to our program and his leadership in our honoring of our awesome veterans, many of whom had never been honored since their return from service. We thank you Luis Sanchez for your service to our country and for making our We Honor Veteran’s program what it is today,” Matthews added.
A Real Havasu Help
In addition to serving his fellow veterans at Hospice, Luis Sanchez is also part of the Patriot Guard, a Lake Havasu motorcycle club that participates in the Welcome Home program.
The Welcome Home program is another tribute to homecoming soldiers and veterans. When the veteran or active duty military member is coming home from active duty, the club arranges to escort them from their landing location and into town to the Eagles club or with pomp and honor. Sanchez helps to welcome the veterans home when they arrive from deployment, and makes them feel appreciated from their service.
Luis Sanchez is also part of the Elks club, the Moose Lodge, and the Eagles club. He has also been a soccer coach for the community.