We all have different memories of Memorial Day. Some remember hot dogs and trips to the lake. Some remember a grandfather or uncle who served in World War II or Viet Nam. I remember 1SGT Saenz. We all met at Ft. Jackson on March 13, 2005. We numbered a little over a hundred members of the Individual Ready Reserve. We reported to Ft. Jackson, South Carolina for in-processing and reintroduction to the US Army. We knew we would be deploying to Iraq. Then MSGT Saenz had a huge laugh and a booming voice. He smiled and laughed a lot.
Those first few days, some Reservists were angry about being called up. Some were happy to serve from the get-go. MSGT Saenz seemed pretty happy to be where he was, preparing for responsibility in a war zone. Later, as I learned, he performed very well and inspired his soldiers.
He died on the dusty streets of Baghdad. We were all leaving Iraq in just a couple of weeks when his HMMWV was struck by an IED. He was out on a convoy training members of the incoming unit. Some of his regular team members were not with him on that run. He died doing what he did very well: serving others.
We should all serve our country half as well as 1SGT Saenz. Rest easy, Top. You did well.