During the Mass of the Resurrection, clergy and fellow Marines told stories about Ruiz; they said he told his wife that “he wanted to die for a purpose.”
“Know that he rests in the hearts of those who knew and loved him,” the priest said. “He lives in all that we are.”
Ruiz, born in Nava Coahuila, Mexico, grew up in San Antonio and graduated from Taft High School in 2001.
A combat engineer, Ruiz was on his second tour in Afghanistan and second stint with the Marines. He worked with his father as a bricklayer for three years but missed the Marines. He felt that he needed to go back, his family said, and he went back into action with his wife's blessing.
A statue of Jesus with outstretched hands stood above the pews filled from front to back. The wail of restless babies mingled with muffled tears throughout the Mass.
A Marine stood and said Ruiz called his wife before his last mission. He was sure the words “I love you” were said before their final talk ended.
The Marine closed his words with “Semper fi, Marine,” drawing applause from the crowd.
Sgt. Ruiz, it turns out, is a relative of Dave's, who had a post on his homecoming.
I was friends in high school with his cousin, Nora. At the beginning of this month, the same day she accepted my friend request over on Facebook, she posted a photo of his casket arriving at Dover AFB. This is how I learned of his death. Rather more immediate than reading of it in the paper.
I was not fortunate enough to know Sgt. Ruiz personally, but I have seen his family's mourning vicariously, and this is what always gets me anyway. I ache for Nora and can only imagine how much worse it is for those closer to him.
Semper Fi, Marine.