FEDERALSBURG, MD, USA U.S. Navy PO3, HMM-364 MAG-19 (REIN) 2D MAW (FWD) KARMAH, IRAQ 02/07/2007
Petty Officer Third Class Manuel A. Ruiz, 21, of Federalsburg, Maryland, died February 7, 2007, in a helicopter crash in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. HM3 Ruiz was a medical corpsman assigned to 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was on his second deployment.
He was born March 19, 1985, in Rota, Spain, the son of Manuel Ruiz and Lisa Harris Ruiz. As a helicopter paramedic he was responsible for saving the lives of U.S. and allied forces on the ground. HM3 Ruiz received the Navy Achievement Medal for his dedication to duty, the Humanitarian Service Medal, and also the Purple Heart, among other awards. The Navy interred his remains on February 22, 2007 at Arlington National Cemetery.
His mother said, “He was proud of what he was doing. He was happy; he loved his job. He wasn’t on the list to go back, but he made them put him on that list.” Manuel had said goodbye to his mother, father, and two brothers just two weeks before his death. His family says he went back because he wanted to help people, and he knew he was making a difference. “He pretty much demanded to go back,” Adam Lusk, a family friend, was quoted as saying to reporters.
The day he died, Jacob Ruiz, one of his younger brothers, tore open a package from his big brother. Inside he found a baseball cap from his favorite team, the Seattle Seahawks, and a jersey of his favorite player, Shaun Alexander, Lusk said. “He always put a happy smile on everyone’s face.”
HM3 Ruiz graduated in 2003 from Colonel Richardson High School in Federalsburg, located in Caroline County on the Eastern shore of Maryland. The school’s principal, Christine Handy-Collins, said, “He was just a wonderful young man who was excited when he graduated to be going to serve his country.” Marjorie Scott, his former art teacher, noted that he had returned to the school several times on recruiting tours while wearing his dress white uniform. Ms. Scott said the students really respected him.
“When Manny would pick up a pencil and he would draw, there was so much feeling, so much emotion, so much power in his drawing – he could make a pencil and paper sing,” Ms. Scott said.
She indicated he planned to continue his studies at the Art Institute of Washington after his Navy service. On a visit home in spring 2006, he showed her photos of a mural he was painting on his barracks wall in Iraq. “So you see, he carried his talent not just through school but in the service,” she said.