Marine Corps veteran Anthony Marquez served in the same unit as Lance Cpl. John Felix Farias, who was killed during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2011, along with 16 other Marines in his unit.
Now, Marquez is determined to honor each fallen hero with a wooden sculpture of the battlefield cross. He carefully crafts the boots, rifle and helmet with a chainsaw.
"At times, it seems overwhelming, (like), ‘How am I going to complete all this?’” Marquez said. “But it's just one at a time."
The project is a personal mission fueled by a passion. He takes great pride in honoring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The task has taken him across the country, and on Sunday, it brought him to Fort Houston National Cemetery, where rows of markers were lined up like military members standing at attention.
Marquez stood at the side of Farias’ grave site.
"The feeling -- it's hard to talk about the feeling,” Marquez said. “It's just there. It's hard to put into words.”
The 160-pound sculpture held even more weight for Farias’ family because it was presented on such a special day.
"Today actually, it would have been his 27th birthday,” said Penny Farias, the mother of the fallen Marine.
She held her son’s photo close to her heart, and mentioned that he played football for Canyon High School. He was a competitive powerlifter too, but what she’ll remember most is his smile.
"(John Felix) was funny,” Penny Farias said. “He liked to be spontaneous and funny.”
Marquez travels across the U.S. delivering these unique honors.
"It's been hard,” Marquez said. “It opens up a lot of things.”
But although he admits the journey has been difficult, many families are thankful for his work.
“To see what you’ve done … thank you so much,” Penny Farias said.
This delivery marks the fourth for Marquez, who is Oklahoma-based. He plans to head to Ohio next. Each sculpture takes him about 12 hours to create.
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