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ABOUT the SrA Danny Ray Sanchez Foundation
The SrA Danny Ray Sanchez Foundation is a non-profit foundation created by his mother, Yvette Sierra (Duchene). She created the foundation honoring her son and giving back to the community who has continually shown her support since his death.
The purpose of the foundation is to raise money through donation funds in order to establish scholarship opportunities to Montwood High School seniors. Funds have been raised through an annual memorial 5K run held at Montwood High School and other fundraisers which include an annual Enchilada dinner.
Interested seniors must fill out an application, turn in 2 letters of recommendation as well as write an essay following a rubric. The applications are then reviewed by a panel of SrA Danny Ray’s family and given a numeric score. Scholarship amounts are determined by the amount of money raised and can be
awarded to a student or students who will attend a two year college, a four year university or sign up with a branch of the United States military.
WHO WAS Daniel Ray Sanchez?
Senior Airman (SrA) Daniel Ray Sanchez was by all accounts your typical ADHD kid growing up.
Although his father was killed in a car accident when Daniel was only 5 years old, he grew up
well adjusted and happy; always smiling. He was an only child for 12 years before his brother
was born; however, there was never a dull moment when this spirit filled kid was around. He
loved being around people, and made friends easily. Daniel had a big heart, to know him was
to love him. He always carried a positive attitude regardless of the situation which would later
prove to be an essential character trait in achieving his goals. Whatever Daniel set his mind to
do, it was accomplished.
He was also inventive, creative and funny. He knew exactly what he needed for his crafty ideas
on how to make scuba gear, costumes like Dark Wing Duck and The Ninja Turtles along with so
many other cool characters and super heroes. He would often ask us to help him with his
makeshift capes, help with adjusting oversized clothes and cutting out strange items, but once
it was all put together, WOW!! We were always amazed.
Daniel was a natural when it came to sports. He loved playing baseball, basketball, football,
soccer and of course, skateboarding. He was good at each sport he set his mind to. He had a
driving force in him that was full of hope, it was an essence of his character, motivation or
resolve if you will, it just seemed to burn inside him. He loved the sport, no matter what it was.
He used his love of sports and kids to help out every year at the Special Olympics where he
would assist those students’ with special needs. He would help them run, guide the students to
the finish line or just wait for the runners to share in their personal victories. This was one of
his enjoyable moments; helping others who couldn’t help themselves.
Daniel attended Montwood High School and it was evident that the abundance of energy he
used for sports was not appreciated in the classroom. His ability to recite movie lines word for
word was not always funny to his teachers either. On several occasions his conduct marks and
poor progress reports kept him from playing the sports that he loved. He always made the
team, just not the grades. Despite these struggles, we knew he was smart. He had a gift; he
was silly and brilliant, he just wasn’t on the honor roll. That was okay though, we never wanted
that from him. We knew what he was about. He just needed to give it his best shot, and that is
what he did.
After graduating from Montwood High School in 2005, Daniel expressed his feelings of joining
the United States Air Force Combat Control Team. His eagerness to defend this country
stemmed from the violent acts that took place on September 11, 2001. Daniel was just 14
years old at the time but devastated as he watched our country being attacked.
Daniel set off to basic training as a young 18 year old man, following his dreams in San Antonio,
Texas. After 7 weeks of this training, he tried out for the special forces’ Combat Control Team.
He was one of two hundred young men who strived to be a Combat
Controller in the following weeks but only sixty of them made the cut and went on to continue
further rigorous training at Pope Air Force base in North Carolina. The arduous
combat training as well as demanding combat dive courses proved too much for many of those
who attempted this feat. Of those sixty young men who were put through even further harsh
extremes to include cold weather training and meticulous air traffic control school, only eight
graduated as members of the Elite Special Tactics Team of Combat Controllers. Daniel was one
of eight young men who put on the Red Beret that day. Their motto:
“First There….ThatOthers May Live.”
We are so very proud of Daniel. His amazing confidence, his perseverance, his fortitude, his
bravery, his positive attitude and his incredible sense of genuine love for his family, friends and
this country is what propelled him to achieve his dream. He is a true hero in our eyes.
On September 16, 2010, six men wearing red berets walked up to the front door of the home
where Daniel grew up. The hearts of many were shattered by the ring of a doorbell that
overcast, gloomy afternoon. The devastating news of Daniel’s death shook the entire
neighborhood and homes of hundreds of his biggest fans. He was shot and killed by an Afghan
insurgent in a fire fight during one of the several missions he led when in Afghanistan. Many
tears were shed that day, many tears continue to fall now. His infectious smile, his vibrant
green eyes, his contagious laugh and his tight hugs are memories that will live on in our hearts
forever. He was awarded posthumously the Bronze Star Medal with Valor; a Purple Heart
Medal and the Air Force Combat Action Medal; he is the wind beneath our wings and someone
his friends and family continue to look up to even today.
Daniel lived his short 23 years of life to the fullest. He lived for the moment and he did so
without complaints, without whining and without feeling sorry for himself. He was a true
warrior in all his efforts. He had the guts to always strive for the best of himself, even if it was
just “average” to others. That is why he gave the ultimate sacrifice; because he wouldn’t have
wanted it any other way. He exemplified the Combat Controllers’ motto; first there, so that
others may live. All give some, but Daniel....gave all.
SrA Daniel Ray Sanchez will continue to brighten up our days, fill our lives with hope, love and
the guts to live life to its fullest.
Thank you for never forgetting SrA Daniel Ray Sanchez and the other fallen soldiers who so
bravely give of themselves for our freedom.