More detail on this person: Tomas Cruz, decorated U.S. serviceman and beloved Guamanian patriarch, dies Cruz Tomas Quenga Cruz had a lengthy and distinguished military career. Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020 | 1:20 a.m. Tomas Quenga Cruz, the first-ever Guamanian helicopter pilot to serve in the U.S. military, died Monday surrounded by his family and loved ones. He was 94. A man with nine lives, the beloved husband, father, great-grandfather, uncle and brother survived six crash-landings, colon cancer and myriad war injuries that included being shot and bayoneted. Tom was born Dec. 22, 1925, in Piti, Guam, to Jose Cruz Santos and Marcela Quenga Cruz. The second of nine children, he was a free-spirited, mischievous child, and while he kept his parents on their toes, he was quite the mama's boy. Tom was 15 years old when the island of Guam was invaded by the Japanese in 1941. Along with his father and eldest brother, John, he was forced to work in labor camps until the island was liberated in 1944. The Cruz family had many businesses - from market stores to Guam's first car dealership and taxi cab company - and as a young man, Tom joined the family team as a taxi driver. He continued his work until he was steered toward a college education on the U.S. mainland. His college education was cut short when he was drafted into the Army. Tom's military career began in 1946 at Fort Lewis, Washington, where he completed basic training. He then served with the 72nd MP Battalion in Tokyo, Japan, until 1948. While serving a two-year reserve duty obligation with the 375th Military Police Company in Pasadena, California, he attended a civilian pilot school for eight months and earned a fixed-wing commercial license. While still attached to the 375th, he was recalled for active duty, and after five months at Camp Cooke he went to Korea in March 1951 with the 40th Infantry Division. Afterward, he was assigned to the 701st MP Company at Fort MacArthur in California.
Burial information: State Veterans Cemetery, Boulder City, CO
This information was last updated 10/05/2020
Please send additions or corrections to: HQ@vhpa.org VHPA Headquarters
Return to the Helicopter Pilot DAT name list
Return to VHPA web site
Date posted on this site: 07/05/2021
Copyright © 1998 - 2020 Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association