Marine Corps commandant Gen. James F. Amos (left) stands with Eagle River resident Capt. Miguel Cruz and his wife, Heather, during an awards ceremony in which Miguel received the 1st Lt. Travis Manion Memorial Award for his work in ground logistics. The picture was taken at the awards dinner on Feb. 3 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott hotel in Arlington, Va.
Photo courtesy of the Marine Corps Association
Eagle River resident Capt. Miguel A. Cruz received the high honor of the 1st Lt. Travis Manion Memorial Award for his work as one of the nation's top U.S. Marine Corps ground logisticians during a ceremonial dinner in Virginia last month.
Cruz didn't physically receive the award, however, until after the ceremony ended.
The statuette named for a Marine killed by a sniper in Iraq flew with checked luggage with its sculptor from Texas. But due to a weather delay in Dallas, the award statue missed the dinner altogether photos of the event show Cruz empty-handed.
That's not to say the Manion is an empty award. Sponsored jointly by Raytheon and the Marine Corps Association Foundation, this year's honor for Cruz marked the inaugural presentation as a namesake award in memory of 1st Lt. Travis Manion, killed in action in Iraq while a member of 1st Recon Battalion working temporarily with a military transition team.
The Marine Corps commandant, Gen. James F. Amos, helped present the awards, one of several given during the event. Manion's parents, Janet and Tom a retired Marine Corps colonel had breakfast with Cruz and his wife, Heather, the morning after the awards ceremony, which was in early February.
Cruz, on active duty with the Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 in Iwakuni, Japan, could not be interviewed for this story. He serves as Maintenance Management Officer and S-2 Intelligence Officer.
The Manion award recognizes the Marine Corps Officer Logistician of the Year. Military logistics is the discipline of planning and carrying out the movement and maintenance of military forces, such as personnel transport, facility acquisition or construction, and medical support, according to a NATO glossary.
During the awards ceremony last month, Gen. Amos said logistics leadership was very strong and that the logistics community was the best he had seen in more than 30 years, according to the Marine Corps Association Web site. He praised the role logistics have played in Afghanistan; despite media reports that the Marines are "in over their heads," he was able to walk around during a Christmas visit without a flak jacket.
He cited another general's words that "logistics is what sets us apart."
Cruz first enlisted with the Alaska Air National Guard in 1998 and was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 2006. He was promoted to captain in September of last year.
His first deployment came in 2000 with the 210th Rescue Squadron to Turkey. He was reassigned in 2003 to Alaska Command J2 as an air intelligence analyst. He deployed in 2003 to Ramstein, Germany, with the 144th Airlift Squadron and deployed again in with the 210th that same year. In 2005, he deployed to Operation Joint Forge with the 144, conducting operations from Ramstein as an Intelligence Applications Craftsman.
Cruz deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom last year with U.S. Forces Iraq J4 Joint Plans and Integration Center, where he served as logistics planner and returned to Japan later last year.
Cruz graduated from Officer Candidate School in 2005. Other awards include the Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, and Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal.
He and his wife have three children.
This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, March 2, 2011.