ROBERTO CRUZ - NEVER QUIT CHALLENGE OPERATOR
My name is Roberto Cruz, I was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico on September 5, 1981. Of three children to Hector Cruz Sr. and Mildred Arocho, I was the middle child.
My father is a Vietnam veteran, and growing up I always wanted to be like him. After graduating High School I enrolled in college at the University of Puerto Rico in Utuado, and then transferred to Polytenic University of Puerto Rico.
After being in college for a couple of years, I quickly found that it was not for me. What I really wanted to do was join the military and on June 9, 2003 I enlisted in the Army as an Infantry man, like my father had been.
After graduating from basic training in Ft. Benning, Georgia, I went to airborne school and upon graduation I got military orders to be stationed in Ft. Stewart, Georgia and was with Alpha Company 2-7 Infantry of 3rd Infantry Division.
I arrived in Ft. Stewart in March of 2004 and was sent to do all the training required to be deployed the following year.
In January of 2005 I was deployed to Tikrit, Iraq. I was in Forward Operation Base Danger; while there my unit completed many combat missions from raids, patrolling, and force protection. We were the main combat element in Tikrit.
On August 14, 2005 while on guard duty on a watch tower, I was shot by a sniper.
The shot came unexpectedly and before I knew it I was on the floor. I heard a loud explosion and thought I had been hit by an RPG, but my team leader, who was with me on the guard tower, did not know what had happened until he saw blood coming out of my left arm.
He realized I had been shot, and began to take action to help me.
He told me I had been shot, and I told him not to lie to me because I could not feel my legs; I believed I had been hit by an RPG.
I asked him if the bullet had come out, and he searched for an exit wound, but did not find one. He called the medic, and he decided to medevac me.
The last I remember I was being put in a Blackhawk helicopter and feeling that I could not breathe.
I was taken to Ballad and once I was stabilized I was sent to Landstuhl, Germany.
The bullet had ricocheted through my body and lodged in my spinal cord. While in Landstuhl they were able to take the bullet out. I was transported to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
I had been in a coma since being put in the Blackhawk in Tikrit, and woke up two or three days after being at Walter Reed.
I was dazed and confused from all the medications I was on, and everything that had happened. I remembered I had been shot and learned that I was back in the United States.
I was told that I would never walk again, but I had faith in myself that I would prove them wrong.
I went to physical therapy, it was not easy, but got through it. I was sent to James A. Haley, Veterans Hospital in Tampa, FL to continue my therapy and treatment.
I soon started to take steps with a walking cane, eventually working toward walking on my own.
The artery in my left arm was damaged by the bullet leaving nerve damage in my arm and fingers. I am unable to use my left arm, but have adapted.
I try to be active and stay connected with different outings and sports which help me realize that I can still do many of the things I love to do such as bike riding and skiing and all kind of sports.
- << Prev