MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Fla. (WSVN) — The family of a South Florida airman who died earlier this month in an accidental crash in Colombia received his remains, Tuesday.
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Martin Laureano Gonzales died when his plane crashed while drug-hunting in Colombia on Oct. 5. “The flight originated off of Panama. They were doing detection and monitoring in the Caribbean when we lost contact with them and the plane crashed in Colombia,” said United States Southern Command Col. Greg Julian.
A full military honor reception, including military and civilian color guards and a water cannon, honored the fallen hero as his remains arrived in Miami. Gonzales’ wife, two young children, airmen and police officers stood in salute.
Gonzales was part of a reserve team that helped foreign countries trace drug traffickers to keep drugs off the streets. “The work that these men and women do in making sure that those drug traffickers, as they come across, get apprehended, and then in doing so, his plane went down,” said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz.
Gonzales’ plane crashed in Colombia, just four days into the U.S. government shutdown. It threatened the $100,000 in benefits Gonzales’ wife and children would have been paid almost instantly. “We are taking very good care of his family. They received all of their benefits on time,” said Julian.
Gonzales, who lived in Miramar, joined the Air Force in 1992. At the time of his death, his plane was providing detection and monitoring of drug trafficking routes as part of Operation Martillo.
Gonzales will be remembered at a funeral on Friday morning in Coral Gables.
The United States Southern Command is investigating the plane crash.
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