Saturday, October 31, 2009

Marine Sgt. Cesar B. Ruiz

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Sgt. Cesar B. Ruiz, 26, of San Antonio

Sgt. Ruiz was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve, New Orleans; died Oct. 31, 2009 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

San Antonio Express --Just before noon Tuesday, church bells rang for a fallen San Antonio Marine.

They sounded from San Francesco di Paola Catholic Church for Marine Reserve Sgt. Cesar B. Ruiz, killed by a land mine Oct. 31 while serving in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

An hour and a half before the bells tolled, a large crowd of family, friends, veterans and Marines clogged the church entrance at 205 Piazza Italia.

Patriot Guard Riders stood at attention with U.S. flags waving as the gray hearse bearing the body of the 26-year-old Marine arrived.

His wife, Kimberly Ruiz; 14-month-old son Joshua Cesar; parents Maria and Jose Ruiz; and other family members filed behind the casket that came to rest at the same altar where Ruiz married his wife six years ago.

During the Mass of the Resurrection, clergy and fellow Marines told stories about Ruiz; they said he told his wife that “he wanted to die for a purpose.”

“Know that he rests in the hearts of those who knew and loved him,” the priest said. “He lives in all that we are.”

Ruiz, born in Nava Coahuila, Mexico, grew up in San Antonio and graduated from Taft High School in 2001.

A combat engineer, Ruiz was on his second tour in Afghanistan and second stint with the Marines. He worked with his father as a bricklayer for three years but missed the Marines. He felt that he needed to go back, his family said, and he went back into action with his wife's blessing.

A statue of Jesus with outstretched hands stood above the pews filled from front to back. The wail of restless babies mingled with muffled tears throughout the Mass.

A Marine stood and said Ruiz called his wife before his last mission. He was sure the words “I love you” were said before their final talk ended.

The Marine closed his words with “Semper fi, Marine,” drawing applause from the crowd.

After the hymns, prayers and tributes ended, Marines draped a U.S. flag over the casket.

The procession wound its way to Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, past rows of white headstones adorned with red ribbons. At shelter No. 4, relatives, strangers and veterans in military dress joined the procession.

Ruiz's small son eyed the Marines, standing stiff as stone.

As a Marine escorted Ruiz's mother to a waiting limousine, a Patriot Guard Rider, giving his name only as “Bumblebee,” followed at a distance. He made his way to the door, presenting her with a special coin made for military members killed in action.

“That's always the toughest part,” he said as the long procession wound away from the cemetery.

After the ceremony, a row of large bouquets were the last reminders that San Antonio had lost another son in combat.

They each bore a single banner. Beloved husband. Father. Son. Fallen Marine.

His uncle, Juan Antonio Ruiz, said his nephew was the family's first soldier.

“As family members, it's a sad day because we lost a nephew, a brother, a father, an uncle,” Ruiz said. “But it is a great day for us because as a soldier, he served his country, he loved what he was born to do and he makes us very proud.”

Marine Sgt. Cesar B. Ruiz was killed in action on 10/31/09.

No comments: