November 23, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain-based Army National Guard unit gets emotional sendoff in LCCC ceremony

ELYRIA — Sgt. Michael Cruz warned his two brothers not to join the Armed Forces.

Cruz, 29, has been in the Army for 10 years, said he joined so his younger brothers wouldn’t have to.

But twin brothers Thomas and Martin Cruz, 24, shared their older brother’s determination to make the country a better place, and both joined the National Guard in 2009.

“They didn’t listen to me,” Michael Cruz said, crying during a deployment ceremony Friday at Lorain County Community College. “I told them to pick a good job, and they picked engineers, so it’s OK, I forgive them. … I’m very proud of them.”

The brothers exchanged goodbyes and tears during the ceremony at the Stocker Center. Ninety-five soldiers from the Ohio Army National Guard’s 837th Engineer Company will leave Monday to serve in Operation Enduring Freedom.

The ceremony was filled with emotion as other soldiers said goodbye to their families.

Thomas and Martin Cruz, who are each serving as specialists, will work alongside each other in Afghanistan, something that they called a blessing.

“We’re in the same place, you know, to feed off each other and keep each other safe,” Thomas Cruz said.

Martin Cruz, who said he has served overseas before, said his parents were sad to see them go but were proud of their efforts. Both Martin and Thomas Cruz were surprised to see their older brother, who flew from Colorado in to surprise them at the ceremony.

“I didn’t know he was coming today, and he just came over here and grabbed me,” Thomas said.

Even though the reunion was short-lived, the brothers were happy to be together.

“It makes me sad, but I’m happy that they’re together, because when I deployed, I was by myself both times,” Michael Cruz said. “It’s good to have a relative to be there with you.”

Thomas and Martin Cruz are both graduates of Southview High School in Lorain. Hundreds of Lorain County residents attended Friday’s ceremony.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com.