MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan - Cpl. Kendall J. Saunders pushes himself daily and dedicates his time to Marines around him, making sure they are mentally and physically capable of completing their missions. Because of his outstanding work ethic, Saunders was recognized by the Marine Corps Intelligence Awards Program (MCIAP).
MCIAP is a program that has recognized Marines, civilians and units in the intelligence community for seven years, rewarding the very best in intelligence, innovation and dedication to mission accomplishment in the Marine Corps.
Saunders is the noncommissioned officer in charge for the Theater Security Corporations (TSC) cell and is currently serving in the Marine Corps as an intelligence analyst for 3rd Intelligence Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. Saunders was selected to receive the Lance Cpl. James E. Swain Marine Corps Intelligence Enlisted Marine of the Year award for the year of 2016. The award was named in honor of an intelligence Marine who died in Fallujah, Iraq, as a result of enemy fire in 2004.
“To be compared to someone of that caliber just lets me know that people were looking at my efforts and saw that I was doing a good thing,” Saunders said.
Saunders was nominated along with a handful of Marines for the Swain award. His service record stood out due to his efforts as an intelligence analyst and the non-stop commitment he showed alongside his fellow Marines.
“I’m doing anything I can to make sure I know the most about my job, but I’m also keeping myself physically and mentally ready so I can do any other job the Marine Corps needs,” Saunders said.
Saunders was nominated by 1st Lt. Cedric L. Wilson, the officer in charge for TSC, 3rd Intel Bn., III MHG, III MEF. Wilson said Saunders was always looking for responsibility and leadership roles above his own, even before he was an NCO.
“He looked for ways to better himself and his fellow Marines,” Wilson said. “Overall he is just a well-rounded Marine.”
Wilson said the key reason Saunders was chosen for this award was because of his humanitarian efforts in Kumamoto, Japan, in April 2016. According to Saunders, 3rd Intel Bn. was requested to build a product in support of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, identifying the affected area in Kumamoto and areas where civilians could be trapped due to the earthquake. Saunders was directly responsible for identifying discrepancies and adding information before presenting the product to his commanding officer and finally to 3rd MEB. Saunders’ work in Kumamoto helped rescue teams evacuate civilians safely and efficiently.
“Work hard every day because, someday, if we ever find ourselves in an environment where it’s necessary, your best efforts are going to be what could bring our fellow Marines and Sailors home,” said Saunders. “Understand that if you are working hard and putting in those extra hours, someone is going to recognize it.”
Saunders will receive his award in Arlington, Virginia during the seventh annual Intelligence Awards Dinner on September 28, 2017.