From May to November 2011, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Scott Saenz was deployed to Afghanistan and served on an explosive ordnance team as part of a joint tasking with the Marine Corps. While deployed, he contributed to more than 100 route clearance missions resulting in the safety of 18,000 miles of critical supply routes.
On September 23, 2011, while conducting route clearance operations in support of the Marine 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, Sgt. Saenz and two teammates disarmed one improvised explosive device (IED) and conducted post-blast investigations after four IED attacks against their convoy. While completing the fourth investigation, Saenz’s team leader inadvertently triggered an IED, resulting in catastrophic injuries to both legs and one of his arms. Without concern for his safety, and knowing there had been three previous detonations within 50 meters of the area, Saenz rushed through uncleared terrain to provide his leader with lifesaving medical care. After applying tourniquets to his team leader’s injuries, he coordinated with the security elements on scene to move him to a more suitable site for recovery. Once the team leader was moved, Saenz continued to provide tactical field care until the bleeding had stopped.
After being relieved by medical personnel, Saenz again put himself in harm’s way as he created a cleared path for inbound medical evacuation aircraft through known IED placement areas, ensuring the safety of recovery personnel. Sgt. Saenz’s quick actions that day ultimately saved his team leader’s life. After his fellow airman was evacuated, Saenz assumed team leader responsibilities and returned to the incident site where he collected valuable evidence to submit for biometric exploitation.
For his courageous action, Sgt. Saenz was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal with Valor. He was also awarded the Army Commendation Medal for outstanding performance during his six-month deployment, and the Army Achievement Medal for being named “Hero of the Battlefield” in October 2011.