My friend Carlos Saenz, in whose honor I had named one of my hovertanks, was killed in action in Iraq, May 5th, 2006.
Carlos Saenz was a friend and mentor to me. He was gregarious, loud, larger than life, and the finest human being I have ever known. He loved his family, career, and nation with an enthusiasm and zeal that can only be described as "full throttle." I will miss him more than words can ever tell.
I will attempt, however, to distill my years of camaraderie, friendship, and admiration for this great man with a paraphrased quote from a person he admired, General George S. Patton.
"Do not mourn the fact that a man like Carlos N. Saenz died. Instead, rejoice that such a man lived."
Go easy, bro. We may not see each other soon, but you'll be the first one I look for. God bless Carlos and his family.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Sacrifice of Two Soldiers Is Honored at Arlington
By Arianne Aryanpur
One was a father and husband, the other a college student just shy of graduation.
They never met, but yesterday they were honored under the same cloudless sky as heroes who died fighting for their country.
Army 1st Sgt. Carlos N. Saenz of Las Vegas and Army Staff Sgt. David M. Veverka of Jamestown, Pa., were the 230th and 231st people killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Saenz, 46, was one of three soldiers killed May 5 in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near their Humvee. Also killed were Spec. Teodoro Torres, 29, of Las Vegas and Sgt. Nathan J. Vacho, 29, of Janesville, Wis.
Saenz was born in Mexico and moved with his family to Nevada in 1970. He attended Basic High School in Henderson, Nev., where he was a guard on the football team and a member of the Marine Corps ROTC.
After graduation, Saenz joined Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, at Fort Bragg, N.C. He met his wife, Nanette, in 1982 while visiting friends at Fort Meade, where she was stationed.
Years later, they served together in Operation Desert Storm as military police officers. After returning, they married in Nevada.
Saenz is also survived by a son, Juan, 14, his father, Jose Tarin, and his mother, Joaquina Chorens.
Saenz received numerous awards, including the Good Conduct Medal and the Nevada State Commendation Medal. "Everyone who knew Carlos knew he was proud to be in the military," his wife said. "He really loved what he was doing."
His last assignment with the Army Reserve's 490th Civil Affairs Battalion, based in Abilene, Tex., took him to Iraq last year. He was four days from leaving Iraq.
"He never questioned any of the politics," his wife said. "It was about the soldiers he was serving with."
Several of those soldiers -- dressed in blue and green uniforms -- paid homage to the sergeant yesterday.
A few hours later, more than 50 mourners gathered nearby to honor Veverka, 25, who was killed May 6 in Diwaniyah, Iraq, by an improvised explosive device.
Veverka was assigned to the Army National Guard's B Company, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry Regiment, based in Brewer, Maine. Staff Sgt. Dale J. Kelly Jr., 48, of Richmond, Maine, also was killed in the explosion.
Veverka attended Jamestown High School, where he was leading scorer on a basketball team that was 0-21 his senior year. "David was about 5-10 -- we would stretch him to 5-11," basketball coach Scott Taylor said. "He battled guys that were 6-4, 6-5 every night, but he was a hard worker. He never gave up."
Teachers said Veverka was in the top 10 percent of his high school class. After graduating, he joined the Army as a way to pay for his education at the University of Maine, where he was studying wildlife ecology.
Last year, Veverka was appointed to a fellowship program for "unusually promising students" designed to inspire young scientists. For months, Veverka worked with a sixth-grade class to design a biodiversity project, said Susan Brawley, the fellowship coordinator.
"When he heard that his unit was likely to be called up in November, he called me right away," Brawley said. "He was very concerned that this project continue once he left. He had that sense of responsibility."
Veverka was to graduate with his class this month and was considering attending graduate school in California. University officials awarded him a posthumous degree May 13. "He would have been an extraordinary biologist," Brawley said.
Although most of the students at Jamestown High are too young to remember Veverka, he has inspired many of them, Principal Brian Keyser said.
"He really was the all-American kid who came from a small town, from working-class parents," Keyser said. "He showed that it doesn't matter what your background is -- you can still do great things. He's a great role model."
© 2006 The Washington Post Company
May 14, 2006
When 1st Sgt. Carlos Saenz was home in November from Iraq, it was clear he believed he was making a difference.
"He enjoyed his tour with the Iraqis. He loved the Iraqis, loved the mission," said his sister-in-law Jeany Davidson. "He saw himself as a peacemaker over there."
About 350 people attended a Saturday memorial service for the Army Reserve soldier, who died near Al Hillah, Iraq, on May 5.
His flag-draped casket at the front of the room, the 46-year-old was honored as a "soldier's soldier."
"He'd be the first to tell you not to remember him as a hero," said Chuck Giesler, Saenz's friend and brother-in-law. "He'd want us to remember him as a good father, a good son, a good soldier."
After the eulogy, a video montage of photos set to the song "Angry American" played. It had been prepared by Saenz's 14-year-old son, Juan.
The casket was carried outside, where an honor guard shot 21 times in Saenz's honor. Soldiers folded the flag that had covered his coffin and presented it and two others to the family, along with medals awarded posthumously.
A bugler played taps as the honor guard carried away the casket. It will be flown to Arlington National Cemetery, outside Washington, D.C., for burial.
Saenz had served as a soldier in the regular Army, Nevada National Guard and Army Reserves, as well as working for Nevada Test Site security firm Wackenhut Services Inc., for more than 20 years.
Beyond the battlefield, Saenz was praised as a family man.
"He had a unique, abiding, loving relationship with his son and wife," Davidson said.
When news reached Iraq that Juan did well in a science fair, Saenz banged on another soldier's door to wake him up so they could go shopping.
"Oh, my son! Oh, my son!" Saenz shouted with glee, according to the soldier's e-mail. "He's going to be the smart one in the family."
Saenz was killed when an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle during combat operations about 60 miles south of Baghdad, according to a statement from the U.S. military. Las Vegas resident Spc. Teodoro Torres Jr. also was killed, as was Sgt. Nathan J. Vacho of Janesville, Wis.
Saenz and Torres, who worked for a local helicopter company, were assigned to the 490th Civil Affairs Battalion in Abilene, Texas. They were attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
Saenz was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Medal on Saturday. He also received the Combat Action Badge, which was awarded for direct contact with the enemy on May 5.
Saenz was born on Jan. 29, 1960, in Mexico. He came to the United States as a child and his family moved to Nevada in 1970, "searching for a better life," Giesler said.
According to Special Operations Command, Saenz entered active duty in 1978 and served with the 508th Infantry of the 82nd Airborne Division.
Records from the Nevada National Guard show he was a member of the Nevada Guard from June 1990 to 1992, serving with the 72nd Military Police Company in Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
In June of 1994, he was assigned to the Guard's 1st Squadron, 221st Armor Battalion, Las Vegas until January 2000. Then, he became an instructor in the 421st Regional Training Institute in Stead. In May 2002, he joined the Guard's 1864th Transportation Company, Henderson until he was honorably discharged in January 2004. He then was assigned to the Individual Ready Reserve.
He met his wife, Nanette, while in the Army during the first Iraq war, Davidson said.
He is survived by his wife, and son, both of Las Vegas; his father, Jose Tarin, of Mexico; his mother, Joaquina Chores, of Henderson; and three sisters and one brother, all of Las Vegas.
Carlos N. Saenz, 1960-2006
Copyright (c) 2006 Hellion Productions