Houston area Marine's call-to-action about honoring fallen veteran goes viral

By Amanda Cochran - Social Media Producer

HOUSTON - A Marine has issued a touching call-to-action to service members and the public in the Houston area to honor a fallen veteran at his funeral services next week.

Lance Cpl. Ruben Vega Jr. died in California in a car accident last Friday at the age of 22, but his funeral will be held in Houston on Tuesday.

Chris Blanco posted a video about Vega’s death on his Facebook page, urging more service members to attend after he learned that only about 20 people would be able to attend his services.

“As you also probably know, being a lance corporal who served in the Marines, he has two sides of his family, there’s blood-related and then there’s those that served with him,” Blanco said. “So I’m making this video to reach out to the greater Houston area and anyone who might be in close distance who is willing and capable to attend the services for this Marine. I’ve never met him, but it doesn’t really matter. Right now, his family needs us probably more than ever...

"...I don’t care if you’re marine, soldier, airman, sailor, (or) civilian. If you’re just somebody who supports the military in general, I’m hoping that this message gets shared far and wide so that we can reach out to the community that’s very strong here and we can show up in full force."

Speaking with Blanco on Friday, KPRC learned hundreds, and perhaps a more than a thousand, people are now expected to gather to celebrate the Marine’s life and his service after the post went viral. The post has been shared more than 900 times.

“The veteran community, especially here in Houston, is really strong,” Blanco told KPRC. “It’s kind of like that, 99 percent of everybody that shows up doesn’t know him, and as far as everyone’s concerned, we’re his family too.”

Blanco said the challenge now is to make sure everyone who wants to attend the funeral can be accommodated, and to overwhelm the family with love and support in all the right ways.

He explained, “We’re trying to be very respectful of the family.”

Family and friends are touched by the outpouring of support.

Organizations that have asked to attend the services will separate themselves at appropriate times and be stationed in designated areas to give the family space to grieve, Blanco explained.

In addition to the efforts to bring local service men and women to the funeral, a GoFundMe account has been created to help bring Vega’s California Marine brothers to Houston. More than $4,000 has already been raised.

Any funds beyond the cost of travel are being put toward a plant for the family, according to the page.

The page reads: “(Ruben) was very much loved by everyone who met him. Ruben was known to be a joker and a prankster, but kind hearted and loyal. Ruben would help anyone in need and was considered a best friend by many. He is already missed by his Marine brothers.”

If you would also like to attend the funeral services, the plans are as follow: 

Services will be held on Tuesday, August 15, at 10:00 a.m. at Santana Funeral Directors, 5352 Katy Freeway, Houston; with a burial at 2:15 p.m. at Houston National Cemetery, located at 10410 Veterans Memorial Drive in Houston, 77038.

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