CAMP LEJEUNE -- Pfc. Enrique Sanchez was riding in a humvee in Iraq when a rocket-propelled grenade exploded under the vehicle, ingiting the fuel tank. Flames engulfed the humvee as enemy fire from 20 insurgents exploded around it.
Disregarding the bullets and flames, Sanchez opened fire on the insurgents, firing his machine gun to allow his crew to escape the humvee.
Sanchez escaped the vehicle, with second-degree burns, moments before grenades and rockets inside the humvee exploded. Days later, he was killed by a roadside bomb. He was 21.
Monday, Sanchez's grandmother accepted a Bronze Star medal on her grandson's behalf. The medal, with a "V" to indicate combat valor, is the fifth-highest honor the Marine Corps bestows for heroism in combat.
Sanchez's fellow Marines, including one man his actions helped save that day in Iraq, stood at attention as Sanchez's grandmother accepted the medal.
"He would have been proud to get the award if he were here, but he (would have been) even prouder to have been nominated by his peers and by his officers and his (non-commissioned officers)," said Pat Ayscue, Sanchez's grandmother.