Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Jose L Saenz III

Pleasanton, Texas

August 9, 2010

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
30 Marine Sgt

1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force

Camp Pendleton, California

 Killed while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

From Hurley Funeral Home hurleyfuneralhome.com  :

Sgt. Jose Luis Saenz, III
January 27, 1980 - August 9, 2010
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Jose Luis Saenz III passed away on Monday, August 9, 2010 while serving his country in Afghanistan at the age of 30. Joey was born January 27, 1980 in San Antonio, and was a 1999 graduate of Pleasanton High School. While in school he was a varsity football player and was also active in various activities including art and band. He lived in Pleasanton for 15 years and was a member of St. Matthews Catholic Church in Jourdanton. Joey had many jobs over the years, and it was while working at Wal-Mart that he met his future wife. Joey joined the United States Marine Corps in 2003. Stationed with 15th Expeditionary Unit, he participated in various exercises throughout the Persian Gulf from May of 2008 to November 2008. He leaves behind his wife Christy Heritage-Saenz; son Jose Luis Saenz IV; parents Leonor Mata Saenz and Jose Luis Saenz Jr.; twin sister Bettina Saenz-Salas, husband Alex Salas and children Brianna Salas and Ignacio; sister Melissa Saenz and Shad Crow; sister Patricia Saenz and Luis Ramos III and children Luis Ramos IV and Leigh Ramos; paternal grandparents Jose Luis Saenz Sr. and Evangelina Saenz and maternal grandmother Celia P. Mata. His maternal grandfather, Senovio Mata Sr. precedes him in death. He is also survived by his mother-in-law, Paula Heritage; father-in-law, Elogio Heritage; sisters-in-law, Lisa McLin and husband Matthew, Sandra Callejas and husband Jeffrey and brother-in-law, Elogio Heritage, Jr. and wife Ruby. Sgt. Saenz also leaves behind numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. He will be sorely missed as he greatly impacted many lives. Visitation will be held at Hurley Funeral Home, 118 W. Oaklawn Rd., Pleasanton, Texas from 2:00 PM to 9:00 PM, with a rosary to be recited at 7:00 PM on Sunday, August 15, 2010. The funeral service will be held at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Pleasanton at 10:30 AM Monday, August 16, 2010. Interment will be at San Ysidro in Pleasanton, Texas. Anyone wishing to leave condolences for the family may do so at www.hurleyfuneralhome.com

From LivingLegendTeam.Blogspot.com 08/2010:

Marine Sgt. Jose L. Saenz III
Remember Our Heroes

Marine Sgt. Jose L. Saenz III, 30, of Pleasanton, Texas

Sgt. Saenz was assigned to 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died Aug. 9, 2010 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while supporting combat operations.

PLEASANTON — To his family, Sgt. Jose Luis Saenz III was just about everything — a U.S. Marine, a prankster, an only son and a twin brother. 

More than anything, relatives said, Saenz was fearless, the kind of person who stayed strong even in the toughest of times.

This week, his family struggled to follow Saenz's example, after learning the Marine sergeant had been killed Monday in Afghanistan when he stepped on an improvised explosive device. He was on his third tour of duty with the Marines.

Saenz was the second GI from the San Antonio area killed in Afghanistan within a week. Army Pfc. John Andrade, 19, was killed Friday after he was hit with an IED. “I feel like it's still a dream, and I want to wake up,” said Saenz's mother, Leonor Saenz, Wednesday afternoon. Then she broke into a deep, long sob.

Saenz, who deployed to Afghanistan in May, was leading his unit on routine patrol when he was killed. He had stepped out of his vehicle before his group to make sure the unit was safe, a sister said.

His family learned of his death Monday afternoon, when military personnel arrived at his parents' home northwest of Pleasanton.

“We were all just screaming,” said his sister Patricia.

His mother cried and yelled at the military officials to leave. “Why did you come here?” she had demanded. “You have the wrong house.”

His niece, Brianna, 8, who remained inconsolable Wednesday, sent his phone number a text: “Come back home please.”

A 1999 graduate of Pleasanton High School, Saenz left behind a wife and a 5-year-old son, Jose IV. His widow and son traveled with his parents to Dover AFB in Delaware on Tuesday to meet his casket. They returned home Wednesday afternoon.

His remains will be brought back to Texas later this week, his mother said. Plans for funeral services were pending. 

Saenz, who was also known as Joey, moved with his parents and three sisters from San Antonio to Pleasanton in 1995, where he became a member of the high school football team.

After high school, he worked in various positions as a mechanic, including a stint at Wal-Mart, where he met his wife. She worked in the store's jewelry department.

He joined the Marines in 2002.

“It was his calling,” said his twin sister, Bettina. “He always said that's what he was meant for.”

The Marines proved to be a guiding force in his life, prompting him to re-enlist four years ago. This was his first time in Afghanistan, after tours in Okinawa and Iraq, Patricia said.

Throughout all of his deployments, Saenz made a point to stay in touch with his large family, scheduling four-way phone calls every Friday, when he would relentlessly tease his sisters.

But Wednesday afternoon, Bettina recalled a different kind of phone call, the last one they shared.

"He was more stern than joking,” she said, remembering his tense call from last week, a rare indication the he was under stress. “He wasn't joking around.” 
Even before he left for Afghanistan, his twin sister had the sense something was wrong. For the first time, she dreamed about her brother's death.

“I knew he wasn't going to come home the way I wanted him to come home,” she said. 

Her brother suspected what she was thinking, and he told her he had dreamed the same thing.

But Saenz said his tour in Afghanistan had started to pass more quickly. Now, he dreamed about fajitas and the party he hoped to throw upon his return home in November.

He had also begun to consider civilian life seriously, now that he was a father, Bettina said. He talked about moving back to Pleasanton, where he and his twin sister could raise their young sons together.

Instead, Saenz's parents, widow and son returned to Texas from Delaware without him.

They arrived home to see a memorial to Saenz growing rapidly at the front entrance of their property.

Then, after a tearful reunion with her daughters, it was time for Leonor Saenz to go to the funeral home and begin planning her son's services.

“He wore his uniform with a lot of honor,” she said Wednesday. And now she would remember him that way. As she left for the funeral home, Leonor put on a T-shirt made in Saenz's honor and a black baseball cap.

Across the top, it read “Proud Mom of a U.S. Marine.”

Marine Sgt. Jose L. Saenz III was killed in action on 8/9/10.

Marine sgt. ‘wore his uniform with a lot of honor’

The Associated Press

Jose “Joey” Saenz III believed he was meant to be a Marine, according to his twin sister, Bettina.

He kept in touch with his family while overseas by planning four-way phone calls on Fridays, which he often used to tease one of his three sisters, or to talk about dreaming of fajitas and a welcome-home party.

As father to a 5-year-old-son, Jose IV, he also had started to think about civilian life, his twin sister said.

Saenz, 30, of Pleasanton, Texas, was killed Aug. 9 by an explosive device while on patrol in Helmand province during his third tour of duty. He was assigned to Camp Pendleton and had served in Iraq.

“He wore his uniform with a lot of honor,” his mother, Leonor Saenz, said.

The San Antonio native graduated in 1999 from Pleasanton High School, where he played football and was active in band and art activities. Before joining the Marines a few years later, he worked as a mechanic at several places, including the Walmart where he met his wife, Christy Heritage-Saenz.

Saenz, a fan of the Tejano duo Grupo Vision, was fearless even in tough times and was known as a prankster, relatives said.

He’s also survived by his father.

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