News: 1/11 names firebase, honors fallen Marine
Story by Cpl. Ned Johnson
FIREBASE SAENZ, Afghanistan – For years, military members have been naming bases and buildings after fallen warriors.
Marines with 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division (Forward), honored Sgt. Jose Saenz III, who was killed in action, Aug. 9, by naming their newest firebase after him.
“We wanted to do something special for Sgt. Saenz,” Sgt. Maj. Gerald Saunders told the Marines of Bravo Battery, 1/11. “When you are working, think about the fact that this place is named after your fellow Marine.”
Saenz, who was the motor transport maintenance chief for India Battery, 3rd Bn., 12th Marines, attached to 1/11, was a friend to everyone, said Capt. Richard Robinson, the commanding officer of Bravo Battery.
“He meant a lot of things to both our battery and our battalion,” said Robinson, a 33-year-old native of Woodway, Texas.
Robinson also said the Marines will be making a sign with Saenz’ name on it that will mark the front gate of the firebase.
“With every improvement we make, we have him in mind,” Robinson added. “We have dedicated this base in his memory and the highest standards that he upheld.”
Those who knew Saenz said he was a great Marine, but his devotion was more than that.
“It’s important that we remember Saenz because he was all about sacrifice,” Robinson said. “He was the kind of Marine who always said ‘I will do this’ when no one else would.”
This willingness to help manifested itself in several ways.
“He was always willing to teach or help us,” said Sgt. Alex Gibson, motor transport chief with Bravo Battery.”
The firebase is dedicated to Saenz, but it is also helping the Marines cope.
“When I found out about the name, it was the best news I have received this deployment,” said Gibson, a 25-year-old native of Ocala, Fla. “His passing hurt a lot, but it felt good to hear we are honoring him.”
On the morning of Sept. 29, Marines with Bravo Battery raised an American flag over the base in honor of Saenz, who was 30-years-old from Pleasontown, Texas. The flag will be given to his family.
Firebase Saenz is home to three M777 Lightweight Howitzer cannons that Marines fire in support of units in northern Helmand province.
The firing position may only be temporary, but the impact will last a lifetime.
“The name means he will never be forgotten for his sacrifice,” said Cpl. Pedro Pacheco, a good friend of Saenz and motor transport maintenance chief with Bravo Battery. “He was a great guy, a great sergeant and a great leader.”