HARLINGEN — It’s a solemn moment no family of a serviceman wants to experience, but it’s also one of dignified respect and gallant tributes.
With a water salute marking the arrival of Southwest Airlines flight 27, the body of HM3 Michael V. De Leon, 30, U.S. Navy, arrived Monday afternoon at Valley International Airport from California.
At around 4 p.m., De Leon’s family stood on the runway, along with members of the Patriot Guard Riders, the Harlingen Police Department and a U.S. Marine Corps color guard, ready to honor their son.
De Leon was working in Rehab and Physical Therapy on the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, also known as 29 Palms, in San Bernardino County in Southern California when he passed away.
De Leon lived his early life in Harlingen and came from a military family.
He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 2013 with the goal of becoming a Hospital Corpsman.
De Leon is survived by his father Jose De Leon Jr., his mother Sandra De Leon and Brother Jonathan.
His father mentioned he would have turned 31 in October and expressed his respect to service men and women.
“As a former military family member, this is quite an honor, we felt very proud when our son joined the Navy,” he said.
“We would like to acknowledge not just the Marines and Navy, but the CEO of Honoring Our Fallen and recorded the events coming over from San Diego,” De Leon said.
“A lot of overwhelming support and love, and we would rather not be here under these circumstances. But the military has been very supportive, and we will lay our son to his rest on Wednesday and celebrate his life,” he said.