MSgt. Thomas A. Saunders
Died: 10 MAR 2015
Seven Marines with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operation Command died when a U.S. Army UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter crashed near Eglin, Florida, March 10, 2015.
Master Sergeant Thomas Saunders served as team chief for 2d Marine Special Operations Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Master Sergeant Saunders was born in Bonn, Germany. After graduating High School in Virginia, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and attended basic training in June of 1999. Following basic training, he attended the School of Infantry as was assigned to 2d Battalion, 6th Marines aboard Camp Lejeune, NC.
While in 2d Battalion, 6th Marines LCpl Saunders deployed twice with aboard the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) and participated in
OPERATION DYNAMIC RESPONSE in Kosovo, and the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) participating in OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM.
Returning from deployment Sgt Saunders was selected to go to Special Operations Command-Central and then assigned to a special operations task force participating in combat operations in western Iraq for the early portion of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM.
Returning from Iraq, Sgt Saunders returned to 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, and then deployed to Okinawa, Japan for 10 months. Sgt Saunders then received orders to the 1st Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) in Norfolk, Virginia after attending the Basic Security Guard Course in 2004. While in 1st FAST, Sgt Saunders deployed to NAVEUR, and Iraq in support of contingency operations and held Squad Leader, Platoon Sergeant, Operations Chief, and Company Gunnery Sergeant Billets.
In December of 2007, Staff Sergeant Saunders was assigned to 2d Battalion, 1st Marines in Camp Pendleton, Calif. While there he held Platoon Sergeant, Joint Terminal Attack Controller, and Platoon Commander billets, and deployed to Iraq in 2009.
In 2010, Gunnery Sergeant Saunders was assigned to the Marine Special Operations Regiment and was designated a critical skills operator after spending eight months as a liaison to US Army Special Operations Command. In February of 2011, he was assigned to the 2nd Marine Special Operations Command. In September 2013 he was promoted to the rank of Master Sergeant where he deployed later that month as team chief.
Master Sergeant Saunders decorations include the Joint Service Commendation Medal, (2) Navy-Marine Commendation Medal, (5) Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, the Combat Infantry Badge, and (5) Good Conduct Medals.