Pfc. Joseph Cruz was not afraid of parachuting out of moving planes as a member of the Army's 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, also known as the "Red Devils. '

"He wasn't scared of much,' Ana Cruz, his sister, said Wednesday.

Cruz, 22, who grew up in Whittier and graduated from a local high school, died in Bagram, Afghanistan on Saturday. Army officials said Cruz died from non-combat injuries sustained in an accident. U.S. Department of Defense officials have not provided details.

Cruz attended Pioneer High School for the fall 2000 semester before transferring to Sierra Vista High School's independent study program. He graduated from Sierra Vista in 2001.

Army officials notified Cruz's mother, Rosemary Aguirre, and his stepfather, Roberto Aguirre, who now live in El Paso, Texas, of their son's death on Sunday, the parents said.

The family is preparing for Cruz's body to be shipped back to Texas for funeral services.

"Right now, it's really hard to talk about,' Roberto Aguirre said in a telephone interview. "His body is overseas. We don't know what's going on, they haven't given us any specific information.'

Cruz joined the Army just before graduating from high school. He was sent overseas soon after, his relatives said.

In mid-September, he got a break from duty and went home to visit with his family for two weeks.

"He surprised my mom,' said Ana Cruz. "He told her he was coming in November, and came early.'

Ana, 21, lives in Pomona, and Joseph visited her for a few days while he was back, she said.