EL PASO, Texas -- A giant American flag atop a fire truck ladder waved over the adobe Catholic church in El Paso where the funeral Mass for U.S. Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez was celebrated Saturday afternoon.
Fellow Border Patrol agents, dressed in their ceremonial olive green uniforms, poured into Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, 2709 Alabama St., alongside Martinez's mourning family and friends as his flag-draped casket was carried inside.
"It's sad to lay down one of our own to rest," said Ramiro Cordero, a spokesman for the Border Patrol. "It's sad to see that he made the ultimate sacrifice. But it honors me, and it honors every single law enforcement agent that he was willing to do that — to protect our nation, to protect our borders and to protect those who serve."
The roads surrounding the 80-year-old church were closed and lined with numerous vehicles from various El Paso County and Texas law enforcement agencies, including from Dallas and Odessa.
A funeral program stated that U.S. Border Patrol acting Chief Carla Provost served as the speaker at the service.
Several elected officials also attended the services, including Congressmen Will Hurd and Beto O'Rourke, who represent El Paso. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was also present. They didn't give any comments immediately following the services.
As the agent's family requested privacy, media were not allowed inside the church for the hour-long Mass or inside the Restlawn Memorial Park cemetery premises, at 8700 Dyer St., for the burial that followed.
Dozens of reporters from local and national media outlets watched from across the street of the Mass and burial, zooming camera lenses to capture a glimpse the services.
Countless federal law enforcement vehicles with flashing lights took part in the 6-mile long procession from the church to the cemetery as Border Patrol helicopters hovered over and near the cemetery,
At the cemetery, flags and bagpipes ushered the white hearse toward the burial site, which was lined with saluting law enforcement officers, Martinez's loved ones and countless flowers. Border Patrol agents carried the casket to Martinez's final resting place.
Martinez, 36, of El Paso, was found injured Nov. 18 near the West Texas town of Van Horn alongside his partner, who has not been identified. U.S. Border Patrol officials do not identify agents injured in the line of the duty.
The agents were found in a culvert along Interstate 10 about 12 miles east of Van Horn — about 30 miles north of the Mexican border. The two suffered traumatic head injuries and broken bones in the incident, according to FBI officials
Martinez died Nov. 19 at a hospital in El Paso. The unnamed agent was also hospitalized and later released.
The FBI is still investigating whether the agents were ambushed or attacked, or if they may have accidentally fallen in the desert in the dark of the night.
The incident has reignited debate over border security and President Donald Trump's proposed border wall, but politics appeared left behind at least for the day.
Martinez, a 1999 graduate of Irvin High School, is survived by his parents, Jose and Elvia Martinez; a son, Sergio Martinez; brothers, Miguel Martinez and Enrique Infante Martinez; and fiancée, Angelica Ochoa, according to his obituary in the El Paso Times.
Pall bearers at the church were Jose Martinez, Miguel Martinez, Jesus Loya, Javier Bejarano, Alfredo Bautista and Israel Vasquez, according to a funeral program.
Following Martinez’s death, his father told the El Paso Times that the agent loved his job and unfortunately had a very dangerous work shift.
Jose Martinez said his son would call him every day to say goodbye for the night.
"And I would tell him, 'Take care of yourself son. God bless you,'" the father said at the time.
The brochure distributed Saturday included photos of Martinez as a child and with his family, as well as a Bible verse: "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."
Sara Sanchez can be reached at 546-6147; [email protected]; @siempresarita on Twitter.
©2017 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)
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