New Jersey Run for the Fallen ~ 2023
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We Honor and Remember:
Lance Cpl. Giovani "Gio" Cruz
Hometown: Camden, New Jersey, U.S.
Age: 22 years old
Died: July 4, 2010
Unit: Marines - Fleet Anti-terrorism Team, Alpha Company, 6th Platoon.
Born: April 15, 1988
A U.S. Marine from Camden has died in a swimming accident at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Lance Cpl. Giovani "Gio" Cruz, 22, was one of three Marines who drowned while swimming off a recreational beach at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay on July 4, military officials said. The Navy offered no details about the swimming deaths. It said Cruz and two other stricken Marines -- Cpl. Paul Fagundes and Lance Cpl. James May Jr. -- were recovered from the surf but could not be revived.
Two Marines who became separated from Cruz's group were able to return to shore. They reported Cruz and the others were in distress, the Navy said.
"He died doing what he loved," Cruz's mother, Isabel Febres of East Camden, said Monday. "He loved being a Marine."
She said her son enlisted in March 2009, almost two years after his graduation from Camden County Vo-Tech High School in Gloucester Township.
"He wanted to become somebody better, which he did when he became a Marine," she said. "He served his country proudly."
Cruz, who was based in Norfolk, Va., went to Guantanamo Bay in May for a three-month security detail. His Marine unit guarded the fence line between Cuba and the U.S. base, which holds a detention facility for terror suspects. The Marines also received anti-terrorism training at Guantanamo Bay.
"While not lost in combat, they were lost in the defense of our nation," Marine Major Winston Tierney said at a memorial service last week at Guantanamo.
Tierney, who was the Marines' commanding officer, cited Cruz, Fagundes and May as "the best our nation has to offer." All were members of Fleet Anti-terrorism Team, Alpha Company, 6th Platoon.
Febres described her son as "lovable, respectful and fun-filled," saying he tried to avoid negative influences on the city's streets.
"That's why he joined the Marines, to not be involved in that situation," she said of Cruz, who's also survived by his father, Herminio Febres of South Camden. "He always played his Xbox with his fiancee (Jackie Mass). He was going to get married when he came back in August."
At the same time, she said, the oldest of her four children eagerly accepted a challenge.
"When he joined the military, I asked him, "Why the Marines? And he said to me, "Why go soft when you can go hard?"
"That was him," said Febres, who now carries her son's phrase in a tattoo on her back right shoulder..
He is survived by his mother Isabel Febres and his father Herminio Febres, brothers Herminio Febres Jr., Christopher Cruz and his sister Tiffany Febres, his fiance' Jackie Mass and a host of aunts, uncles and cousins.
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