Francisco B. Saenz, Jr.
Biography: Francisco B. Saenz, Jr. was born on January 4, 1921, in Laredo, Texas. He is the son of Francisco and Angelina Saenz and attended local schools through the 10th grade. He then worked as a fireman prior to the war.
Service Time: Francisco entered the service and after his basic training, he was assigned to Company B of the 602nd Tank Destroyer Battalion, which saw action throughout Europe. The unit was originally equipped with M10 tank destroyers, but was re-equipped with M18's before leaving the U.S. They shipped out from the New York port on July 18, 1944, and arrived in Scotland on July 29. It was less than a month later, on August 26, that they landed at Omaha Beach, in Normandy, France.
The 602nd was committed to battle along the Moselle River on September 9th and supported operations leading to the capture of Metz, France, in November. They were then transferred to Belgium during the Ardennes Offensive, arriving at Neufchateau on December 21, and supported operations against the Bulge in January, 1945.
The unit fought through the Siegfried Line in February and returned to the Moselle River area in March, before crossing the Rhine River at Boppard, Germany, on March 26. They finally advanced through Gotha, Eisenach, and Zwickau in April.
Francisco received credit for each of the unit's campaigns including Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the American Defense, EAME, WWII Victoryl and the Good Conduct Medals. He left the service at the rank of Technician 5th Grade.
Francisco can be seen in the photo above with the other men of his crew. Shown L to R, Ravil B. Branham, Thomas E. Blair, Douglas J. Ball, Francisco and John J. Cunningham.
In the photo shown at left, you can see the TD had been named "Cisco Saenz" in honor of Francisco. Although Francisco is not shown in the photo, other members of his crew can be seen, Cunningham on the far left and Branham the right. This image may have been taken after the war, when men were being sent home on points and crews were made up using the men that were left.
He re-enlisted in the Army on July 27, 1946, and rose to the rank of Technician 4th Grade. Francisco then worked as a baker in the Butternut Bread company in Chicago, for 40 years.
He married the former Carmen Chavez who he met in Chicago but had been born in El Salvador. The new couple would make their home in Lincoln Park, Illinois, and have four children, three boys and one girl. You can see the couple in the photo at left, sometime in the early 2000s. At the time the article was written, he has 12 grandchildren and 12 great- grandchildren.
I want to thank Francisco for his service to our country and wish him long life and good health. I also want to thank Francisco's granddaughter, Amanda Saenz, for providing information and photos for this tribute.