Cruz, Manuel M. (644th)

Manuel-Cruz-1Manuel M. Cruz

Biography:  Manuel M. Cruz was born on December 19, 1919, in Mesa, Arizona.  He was the son of Benito and Sarah M. Cruz and attened local schools through the 10th grade.  He worked as a truck driver.  On September 24, 1941, Manuel married the former Alicia Franco Haro, who was the daughter of Leandro Franco and Anita Haro. Alicia was born in Ray, AZ.

Service Time:  Manuel entered the service on December 21, 1942, at Phoenix, AZ. He was assigned to A Company of the 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion.  The 644th landed at Utah Beach in Normandy over the period July 11-13th, equipped with M10s, and entered combat 3 days later at Le Haye Du Puits.  They joined the Cobra breakout and advanced into Brittany, capturing Brest in September, 1944.  They then moved into Luxembourg and fought in the Hürtgen Forest in November before joining the Battle of the Bulge in December.  They continued to the Roer River and then reached the Rhine River in March, crossing at Remagen and supporting the reduction of Ruhr Pocket.  The unit moved east to the Elbe River, stopping at Schwerin, Germany.

Manuel-Cruz-2Manuel received credit for four of the unit’s campaigns and was awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster for wounds he received.  He left the service at the rank of Corporal.  

Manuel returned home to Mesa and he and Alicia started a family, having three sons and a daughter, Manual Jr., Rebeca, Danny and Arthur. Manuel owned a dry cleaning business but in his spare time he loved to go hunting.  He was also a member of the DAV (Disabled American Veterans).

Manuel passed away in December of 2013, and was buried in Florence, AZ.  I want to thank Manuel’s son, Arthur, for providing the information and photos for this tribute.