"In the beginning, he liked
the Army. This time, he didn't want to go back. He had been to Afghanistan
and Iraq already, and he was only 22,' she said.
After Joseph saw a friend of
his die in front of him about a year ago, he lost enthusiasm for his
missions, Ana said.
"He didn't want to talk to
anybody and he was so upset,' she said.
During his leave, Cruz joined
part of his family on a cruise to Baja, Mexico, his stepfather said.
"That's the hard thing he was
just here. He was happy and had a lot of fun. He and his grandparents went
on a cruise,' Roberto said. "He rested a lot while he was here. He didn't
talk much about the Army.'
Cruz was a "video game
fanatic,' according to his stepfather. In high school, he often went to
Hollywood Video in Whittier to stock up on games. The fighting game "Mortal
Kombat' was one of his favorites, his relatives said.
"He liked alternative rock,
skateboarding and video games,' Ana said.
Joseph was taking online
college courses and planned to get a job after the Army, but Roberto Aguirre
said he didn't know what type of work he wanted to do.
Ana Cruz said that after Cruz
joined the Army, his attitude seemed to change. He joked less often, she
said, but he also became more polite to her and his family.
"He wasn't rude and did what
my mom told him to do,' she said.
Ana Cruz said she was not
happy about her brother's decision to join the Army because she worried
about his safety. But, she said, it was a decision he made on his own.
"He was a great kid,' said
Roberto. "He was quiet and to himself. We were proud of him.'
This article was published in
the San Gabriel Valley [CA] Tribune, October 2005.