Special flag presentation for Sgt. Saenz
A special flag presentation was held on Wednesday, Aug. 9 at Pleasanton City Hall, to honor U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Jose Luis Saenz III. Saenz was killed in action on Aug. 9, 2010, while serving overseas in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. His family and friends lovingly called him “Joey.”
The son of Leonor and Jose Luis Saenz Jr., the fallen Marine graduated from Pleasanton High School in 1999. Mr. and Mrs. Saenz and their daughters Patricia Saenz Ezernack and Melissa Saenz Crow attended the presentation. Joey’s twin sister Bettina Saenz-Salas, widow Christy Heritage-Saenz and their son, Jose Luis Saenz IV were unable to attend.
Joey was known as a great father who always loved making people laugh. He was dedicated to physical fitness and enjoyed jogging. At the Memorial Walk events held for Joey in year’s past, fellow Marines spoke on his can-do attitude and fearless mentality.
“The flag we are presenting to the Saenz family this morning flew proudly over Pleasanton City Hall in honor of Joey. We humbly present it to you as a reminder to all of us, that freedom is not free,” Pleasanton Police Chief Ronald Sanchez said.
The flag was presented to the Saenz family by the Eagle Battalion from Pleasanton High School.
“On behalf of the City of Pleasanton, thanks and we honor you for your sacrifice,” Sanchez said.
He also thanked the audience for attending the presentation, on behalf of Mayor Clinton J. Powell and City Manager Johnny Huizar.
Sanchez shared how he watched a documentary about a Latin American country using starvation to control its citizens.
“The citizens did not care to speak up against the government out of fear of imprisonment or death. They are not a free nation– we are. As a country, we are grateful for Marines like Joey. In a far away land, 10 years ago today, he sacrificed his life for our country so we could be free from oppression,” Sanchez said.
“Because of warriors like Joey, we are able to gather the community and honor him. The right to gather and speak from our hearts without fear of retribution is a right that we have as Americans. We have that right as Americans today, because of warriors like Joey. We as a nation owe a debt of gratitude to Staff Sgt. Jose Saenz and his family.”
Saenz’s mother, Leonor Saenz said, “From the beginning, I have been the town-crier since my son passed. I thank everybody for continuing to remember him. To us, that is our biggest consolation. The police department has been a big part of our lives from the beginning.”
She said that over the years, the police department has helped in many ways, such as assisting with the escort of bringing Joey home and by participating in the Memorial Walks held for Joey.
“I am very grateful to the chief for attaching himself to our family. We welcome him,” added Saenz.
She said the past seven years can feel like 100 and have been difficult for her family.
“Our mourning is different, but our grief is the same. We love him dearly. We miss him everyday. That will never change and not just for myself, but for all the others that have lost someone,” Saenz said.
She said they share the same pain, regardless of the circumstance. She expressed gratitude that Joey is always remembered, not just today but everyday.