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Memorial established for U.S. Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez

Memorial established for U.S. Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez

Monday, the city of Indio invited the public to leave items of remembrance at a photo and flower memorial honoring U.S. Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez, an Indio resident who was one of 13 service members killed in a bombing last Thursday in Afghanistan.

Photo: U.S. Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez and his father sheriff’s Capt. Herman Lopez. (Riverside County Sheriff’s Dept.)

Indio officials said the public can leave items of remembrance and tribute to Lopez at the City Hall memorial through Sept. 11. They asked that people do not leave lighted candles.

The memorial honoring Lopez, 22, includes photos and yellow roses in the shade of a large Afghan pine tree on the west side of City Hall, 100 Civic Center Mall.

The photo memorial reads, “In grateful memory of the service and sacrifice of U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez. You are forever a son of Indio.”

Lopez and 12 other service members died Thursday in a suicide bombing at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, amid the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.

Lopez was one of two Riverside County residents killed in the Kabul bombing. Kareem Mae’Lee Grant Nikoui, 20, a Marine lance corporal from Norco, also died in the attack.

Also among the dead was Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga in neighboring San Bernardino County.

Lopez was the son of Riverside County sheriff’s Deputy Alicia Lopez and sheriff’s Capt. Herman Lopez. According to the Riverside Sheriff’s Association, Hunter Lopez was a Riverside County sheriff’s Explorer Scout with the Palm Desert Station from September 2014 to August 2017, and he planned to become a sheriff’s deputy upon his return from Afghanistan.

Lopez’s parents shared Monday they were “overwhelmed” at the show of support they’ve received following his death.

“We want to send out a huge thank you to everyone who has donated to the Riverside County Deputy Sheriff Relief Foundation in the name of Hunter and the family, prayed, or reached out to us during one of the most challenging times in our lives,” they said in a statement. “Please know that Hunter wore the United States Marine uniform with love and pride, and it is very apparent that the community will never forget his sacrifice and our family.

“We are grateful to those who have paid tribute to Hunter by sending us bouquets of flowers, posting so many heartfelt messages on social media, or otherwise sharing in our sadness as well as the celebration of his short but incredible life,” they said. “We wish we could thank all of you individually, but that would be nearly impossible, as there has been an overwhelming amount of people helping us. Whether checking on us, praying, making donations in Hunter’s honor, we will forever be thankful for all of you.

“So many people told us that they couldn’t find the right words to express their sympathy. We, likewise, realized that there were no words to express our deep level of appreciation adequately. We have only two words for everyone: thank you.”

The Lopez family is requesting that any who wish to make donations to honor his memory contribute to the Riverside County Deputy Sheriff Relief Foundation.

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