MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Silence spread among the airfield at Miami International Airport as the commercial plane carrying the remains of U.S. Airman, Master Sergeant Martin Gonzalez, taxied toward its final stop Tuesday afternoon.
A full military reception, including a water cannon salute and military color guard, honored the 39-year-old military man, husband and father from Miramar.
As military pallbearers carried Master Sergeant Gonzalez’s draped casket off the plane and past his loved ones, everyone, even airport personnel, stood silently at attention.
“They’re unsung heroes because you don’t see it,“ said Miami-Dade Commissioner, Jose “Pepe” Diaz.
Gonzalez was one of three Americans killed October 5th when their plane went down in a Colombian jungle while hunting cocaine-smuggling fast boats.
“They’re doing drug intervention making sure that those drug traffickers as they come across get apprehended and in doing so his plane went down,” said Commissioner Diaz who chairs the County’s Military Affairs Board.
Officials are investigating the crash. Nothing indicates the plane was shot down.
The longtime airman leaves behind his young wife, a little boy and girl.
The family was reportedly taken care of despite the recent government shutdown which interrupted benefits to military families.
“We’re taking very good care of his family. They received all of their benefits on time and we’re doing all that we can to take care of their needs,”said Colonel Greg Julian of the U.S. Southern Command office in Doral.
A military escort lead the remains of Master Sergeant Gonzalez to Vista Memorial Gardens in Miami Lakes.
The funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Friday at Coral Gables Congregational Church. A memorial is also planned October 28 at Southern Command.