cruz marine of the year
FULL DRESS OCCASION — With his wife, Josie, Marine Cpl. Alex Cruz attends a Marine Corps ball in Hawaii. The formal event took place during the first week of November 2022. Josie is pregnant with the couple’s first child, a boy, whose arrival is expected in January.

A Deltonan has been named the 2022-23 Marine of the Year.

Cpl. Alex Cruz, a 2019 graduate of Deltona High School, has been selected for the special recognition as a model Marine, by the United Services Organization, better known simply as the USO.

The award is given to an enlisted Marine; the Corps currently has approximately 181,000 active-duty personnel.

Cruz enlisted in the Marine Corps shortly after graduation.

“After high school, I didn’t want to go to college. I didn’t think it was a good fit,” Cruz said. “My father is actually a retired Marine, and I grew up around the Marine Corps.”

Cruz intends to make the Marine Corps his career, following in his father’s footsteps.

“He was a gunnery sergeant,” he said. “He went to Afghanistan and Iraq on multiple deployments.”

Stationed in Hawaii since 2020 and working as a military police officer, Cruz aspires to help train future warriors by becoming a drill instructor at Parris Island, South Carolina, the boot camp for many of the Corps’ new recruits.

Being selected as a drill instructor would include a promotion to sergeant, upon his re-enlistment.

“It’s something for the advancement of my career,” Cruz said.

How did he earn the Marine of the Year award?

“In 2021, I performed a lifesaving procedure, CPR, on a Marine. She was at the annual Marine Corps military ball. I was working and was at the ball,” Cruz said.

His fellow Marine was feeling ill. “She was fading in and out of consciousness when I arrived, and I moved everyone out of the way. I didn’t feel a pulse, so I did chest compressions,” he said.

Cruz said he then performed mouth to mouth resuscitation and more chest compressions.

“She woke up and regained consciousness,” he said.

Cruz’s quick action came to the attention of his superiors, who subsequently decided to nominate him for the USO’s Marine of the Year award. He was also awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

“I was meritoriously promoted on Jan. 2, 2022, to corporal,” Cruz said.

As Marine of the Year, Cruz will be a guest of honor in the nation’s capital next spring.

“I’m invited to Washington, D.C., for the annual awards dinner,” he said.

For now, Cruz said, he is pleased to work as a military policeman at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

He is married to a Navy reservist, Josie Amaro, a 2017 Deltona High School graduate.

FAMILY TIME — Joseph Amaro joins his daughter, Josie Cruz, and his son-in-law, Marine Cpl. Alex Cruz, on a beach in Hawaii. Amaro visited the young couple last year.

“She’s a Reserve corpsman. Once a month, she goes down to Pearl Harbor for a weekend,” Cruz said.

Josie is a petty officer 3rd class, which is E-5 in the enlisted hierarchy, which means she outranks Cpl. Cruz, an E-4.

The couple are expecting their first child, a boy, in January.


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