Another story from this week's Bronx Press. Enjoy.
By Brendan McHugh
U.S. Army Specialist Jeans Cruz, the war hero who found Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein hiding in a hole in 2003, was among five distinguished veterans and veterans’ activists who were honored by the G.I. Go Fund at its third annual gala.
Cruz, a Bronxite, deserves better recognition, according to those at the celebration.
“When I heard Jeans story I thought to myself: how is this guy’s name not world renown? Sixty years ago, if someone had caught Hitler, we would all know who that person was, that person’s name would go down in history,” said G.I. Go Fund Executive Director Jack Fanous. “I want [the people in] this room to start today: we will know who Jeans Cruz is and we will honor him for what he did.”
Cruz received the “Veteran of the Year” Award for his outstanding service. He worked in the World Trade Center when they were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, and never imagined that during his first and only tour in Iraq, he would be the one to find and capture the fallen Iraqi dictator hiding in a ditch outside of his home city of Tikrit, after the fall of Baghdad.
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Cruz, a Calvary Scout in the 10th Cavalry Regiment, Fourth Infantry Division, was discharged from the Army in 2005. He lives in the Bronx with his wife, Jackeline, and four children: Jeans Cruz Jr., 8; Luis, 4; Jaydan, 4; and Aaliyah, who is almost 2.
A non-profit charitable organization, the G.I. Go Fund was founded in 2006 to assist all military veterans, with a focus on veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, as they search to find employment, attend college through the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, and connect to critical benefits.
The G.I. Go Fund’s Veteran’s Day Gala, held at the Newark Club, also honored PSEG CEO Ralph Izzo, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, journalist Geraldo Rivera, and veteran Marine Sgt. Joe Pace, who found a job at PSE&G at a G.I. Go Fund job fair.
Fanous said the G.I. Go Fund chose to recognize the honorees because each has made a significant contribution to the men and women who have served our country overseas and deserve recognition as well as gratitude.
Rivera, host of Fox News Channel’s “Geraldo at Large,” has been a journalist for more than 40 years and has earned more than 170 awards in his career. He can now add the G.I. Go Fund’s “Civilian of the Year” Award to his list.
Rivera joined Fox News in 2001 covering many significant events of the past decade, including the death of Osama bin Laden in May.
Fanous said Rivera has brought attention to issues regarding veterans and their families and has been instrumental in educating the public on obstacles that returning veterans face every day.
Rivera said he was proud to be involved and to be honored.
“It's very fulfilling to me, having spent so much time with our men and women in uniform,” Rivera said. “The hard part now is to help these men and women get re-assimilated when they come back home.”
The Gala was sponsored by PSEG, Ferreira Construction, Vanguard Energy Partners, Stop & Shop, Prudential, Greater Media Newspapers, New Jersey State Broadcasters Association, Southwest Airlines, Domino’s Pizza, the accounting firm WithumSmith + Brown, the law firm Cole Schotz, the New York Jets and the New York Giants.