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Benigno Guzman Cruz Jr.
U.S. Navy



      My name is Benigno Cruz Jr., son of Benigno and Alma Cruz. I am writing in regard to a request that I write a little history of myself while I was serving in the US Navy. I served in the Navy from 1987-1991, Em2 NSW ST5. I joined the US Navy at the age of 19 and was assigned to the the seventh fleet in San Diego, CA. I was stationed on the USS TRIPOLI LPH-10, an amphibious assult ship carrying 3500 sailors, marines, and naval special warfare units. The moto of the ship was semper princeps which means "always first" and that meant we were always the 1st to go in to do recon and other missions.

      We operated in the west coast region or southern Pacific. The countries we did missions with and worked with their navies were the Philippines, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Austrailia, New Zealand, Canada, U.A.E., and Kuwait. During peace time, it was very exciting visiting all these countries. Learning about the different cultures created quite a culture shock and I realized that we really have it good in the US. At one point, I lived in the Philippines for 6 months where I was a company commander for the Philippinos who were trying to make a life for themselves in the US. The Philippines only enlist the top 1% of men who are academically qualified.

      As I returned to the fleet, I wanted to do something challenging so I talked with my counselor and he suggested naval special warfare. That was the highlight of my career. I realized that I was in over my head when, in early 1990, we were assigned to the Arabian Sea to conduct seal missions. These became the focal point of international interest when then Operation Desert Shield was in effect. Later in the year, on August 2nd, Sadam invaded Kuwait and Operation Desert Storm was then born. During my time there, we were more challenged by the Iranians than by the Iraqis. We spent a lot of time on the barges and the Iranians were always threatining us with gunships and silkworm missles.

      We were aboard the USS TRIPOLI when the ship was ordered to conduct mine sweeping counter measures in the northern region of the Persian Gulf. You could see Kuwait on the horizon. Then, on the morning of Feb 18th, the USS TRIPOLI was rocked by a mine explosion that ripped off a 16' x 20' hole in the ship's hull. Four sailors were injured. We were fortunate, though, because the Persian Gulf was infested with sharks and sea snakes.

      The end of my obligated service was near so I chose to leave to be with my family. At the time, my son was 2 yrs old and he did not even know me. I also wanted to try something new in my life. During my time in the US Navy, I went around the world 5 times! I made lots of friends along the way and really came to the understanding that we as Americans are blessed. I am proud of everything we had to do to preserve freedom and I would do it again. My son, Chesere Joseph Guzman Cruz, is about to join the Air Force and he, as well, will be fighting to preserve our freedom and freedom around the world. I wish him the best because I know it is the right thing to do. My mother, Alma Rosa Guzman Cruz, is a tough Lipan Apache Warrior and I am so proud of her. Thanks, Mother, and thank you all.

Sincerly,

Benigno Guzman Cruz Jr.






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Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas
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