Staff Sergeant Octavio Sanchez, USMC (Ret.)

Growing up in Fontana, California (east of Los Angeles), Octavio was intrigued by service professionals such as police officers, firefighters and military.

He enlisted in August 1998 after graduating high school, and re-enlisted in 2001.

On June 16, 2005, during his first combat deployment (to Ramadi in Iraq), Octavio was trapped inside a burning vehicle following an IED blast and suffered third-degree burns over 70 percent of his body.

The Semper Fi Fund helped with financial and travel grants—“they allowed me to focus on my recovery,” Octavio says—and has remained by the family’s side ever since.

Today, Octavio is a stay-at-home dad to his three sons and one daughter, ranging in age from 6 to 16. He recently co-founded a construction company, loves to run (“at least four times per week”) and is looking forward to returning to school, perhaps to engage in deeper study into the Bible and his faith, which have helped him enormously over the years.