April 14, 2008
Killed in Tuz, Iraq, when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.
|Spc. Arturo Huerta-Cruz of Clearwater, Florida was a graduate of Countryside High School. He joined the military in May 2006 about the same time he graduated from St. Petersburg College with a degree in architectural design. He was quiet, but studious and would come to the classroom on time or early and would stay late sitting at his desk. He didn't socialize with a lot of people but he got his work done. Arturo was born in Mexico and became an American when his parents earned U.S. citizenship. He was a chemical operations specialist. He enlisted in the Army in May 2006 and completed basic and advanced individual training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Originally from Clearwater, Fla., Huerta-Cruz was assigned to Fort Drum in October 2006. He deployed to Iraq with the 3,500 Soldier strong Warrior Brigade in November 2007 and served in the Kirkuk area of northern Iraq. His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Army Achievement Medal and the National Defense Service Medal. He died in Tuz, Iraq, of wounds sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device at age 23.|
|From Spc Crook 12/02/14:
"I was with him the day he went from us and I'll tell you what he was one hell of a guy."
|Army Spc. Arturo Huerta-Cruz remembered
The Associated Press
Arturo Huerta-Cruz joined the Army because he wanted new experiences, his family said. He thought it would help him with his education.
“We feel proud of the decision he took,” said his father, Pascual Huerta. “The only option we had was to pray for him.”
Huerta-Cruz, 23, of Clearwater, Fla., was killed April 14 in Tuz from wounds sustained from an explosion. He was assigned to Fort Drum.
He loved soccer. A 1996 picture from the Dunedin Winter League shows him in the front row, the only Hispanic kid on the team.
After graduating high school in 2003, Huerta-Cruz enrolled at St. Petersburg College. He received an associate’s degree in architectural design and construction technology in 2006 from St. Petersburg College.
He also is survived by his mother, Maria Cruz.
“The memory of my son is that he was always a good student, a good son, very respectful,” said Maria Cruz. “He always had a lot of desire to come out ahead, improve himself.”
Huerta-Cruz was working on attaining citizenship this year. Army officials told the family they would try to get the soldier granted citizenship posthumously.
|From NBC WFLA 8 wfla.com 04/16/14:
Clearwater Soldier Recalled As 'One Of Our Heroes'
Posted: Apr 16, 2008 10:47 AM PDT
Updated: Jan 02, 2013 11:34 AM PST
Spc. Arturo Huerta-Cruz
Spc. Arturo Huerta-Cruz, 23, was killed Monday when a roadside bomb exploded while he was on patrol in a vehicle near Tuz, about 100 miles north of Baghdad, military officials said.
Huerta-Cruz moved to Clearwater from Mexico when he was 7 but loved both countries, his grieving parents and relatives said from the living room of the family's home in a quiet Clearwater neighborhood.
"He loved everything about this country, and I think that's why he went over to Iraq and fought for what he believed," said Roger Cruz, a cousin. "He had a lot of dreams he wanted to accomplish. We loved him so much. It's going to be a big loss in our family."
Huerta-Cruz, who had six sisters and three brothers, played soccer while he attended Countryside High School. He later studied architecture at St. Petersburg College, earning an associate degree. He planned to continue his studies.
"He wanted to come back and have a career before he had a family," said Cruz, who called his cousin an excellent student who never got in trouble or used drugs.
Pascual Huerta, father of the fallen soldier, said he last spoke with his son eight days ago.
"We talked to him, and he said he never left the base because he was in charge of inventory and maintenance," the father said in Spanish. "Now I don't know if he said that because he didn't want to worry us."
Huerta-Cruz enlisted in the Army in May 2006. He was assigned to the 10th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, in October 2006, the Fort Drum public affairs office said.
Pascual Huerta said family members tried to persuade his son not to enlist, but that he had made up his mind.
"He told us he would come home in September," Pascual Huerta said. "And he couldn't wait to come home to see us and eat his favorite Mexican foods."
Carmen Huerta said her son was "a good boy, an example. He never gave us any problems. He was a wonderful son."
Roger Cruz said his cousin never confided why he decided to enlist. Cruz described him as a private person who kept things to himself.
"He will always be remembered as one of our heroes," Cruz said. "He fought for this country. He gave it all, ... and he gave his life for our freedom. I want to thank him so much where he is."
|The Mountaineer Online Fort Drum
3-6 Field Artillery Soldiers dedicate Wall of Heroes
Sgt. Blair Neelands
1st Brigade Combat Team Journalist
Pfc. Eric Clark, Pfc. Stephen Snowberger, Spc. Arturo Huerta-Cruz, Spc. Joshua Harton, Sgt. Michael Kirspel and Sgt. 1st Class Todd Harris.
To some, these may just be names, but to the Soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, these are more than just names; they are comrades, brothers and friends who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Staff Sgt. Carl Chandler, Spc. Matthew Hagler, Spc. Steven Burtis and Pfc. Marc Gallant recently created a Wall of Heroes to honor the six men the Centaur Battalion lost in the previous three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2005.
“This is a memorial for all the fallen Soldiers of 3-6 (FA),” Hagler said. “These are all good men that we lost, and we did what anybody else would do to remember these great men.”
After the arrival of Sgt. Maj. Mario Terenas, 3-6 FA senior enlisted adviser, the battalion headquarters building was refurbished with unit historical artifacts. Still, more was needed – for the fallen, their Families and the Centaurs.
“We did this because we knew these guys and served with them,” Chandler said. “Before, we just had three small photos on a table, but now we have a true dedication so their Families can come here 15 years down the road and see their son still on our wall.”
The once seemingly unnoticed location of soda and snack machines was renovated into a sanctuary where the photos of the six fallen Centaurs line the wall.
Centered along the wall sits one downward pointing rifle, representing the memorial of Soldiers killed in action, topped by a helmet symbolizing this ultimate sacrifice; six dog tags dangle from the pistol grip, identifying the Soldiers so they will never be forgotten, and at the base sits a pair of combat boots signifying the final march of the last battle.
A single chair faces inward at the six photographs, providing a place of reflection.
“A Soldier can come here on his own and sit down to reflect and do whatever he feels he needs to do in his heart,” Chandler said. “They can always come by to remember.”
“It gives them a place to say any last words they may not have been able to say at the time,” Hagler said.
The creation of this special place came at little cost to the battalion, thanks to the generosity of the Fort Drum community.
“Everything was donated,” Chandler said. “The boots, the flag, the rifle, everything was donated or recovered from around post. All the wood used for the frames, plaques, table and baseboards is made from recycled wood from various places around post, like the buildings being torn down on (South) Post.”
Scraps of wood saved from the previous 3-6 FA headquarters building was salvaged and reused in the room.
For everyone involved, it was a pleasure to be able to create a lasting place where these Centaurs will be remembered forever.
“I served with everybody on this wall,” Hagler said. “They all went above and beyond the call of duty. They all had great personalities and were great men to work alongside of. It was a privilege and honor to be a part of this. They will definitely be missed, but with this room they will always live on in 3-6 FA.”
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