Patterson Marine helps rebuild Southeast Asian school
by Kendall Wright | Patterson Irrigator
Nov 04, 2009 | 634 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lance Cpl. Roberto Delacruz, from Patterson, installs metal siding at a school in Maubara, Timor Leste, during an engineering project Oct. 20. Courtesy photo/Sgt. Scott Biscuiti
Lance Cpl. Roberto Delacruz, from Patterson, installs metal siding at a school in Maubara, Timor Leste, during an engineering project Oct. 20. Courtesy photo/Sgt. Scott Biscuiti
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Lance Cpl. Roberto Delacruz didn’t always intend to be one of the few and the proud. What he did know, though, was that he wanted to make a difference.

As a U.S. Marine, the 21-year-old Patterson resident said he has found his calling.

In late October, Delacruz and other members of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit helped rebuild an elementary school destroyed by radical militia for more than 300 students in Maubara, a city in Timor-Leste in Southeast Asia. The construction effort was part of an exercise mission for the battalion focused on medical and dental assistance, engineering and military interaction.

“It was such a proud moment for me to help people we didn’t even know,” Delacruz wrote in an e-mail to the Irrigator. “To know that we are going to leave them a better place than we found it felt really good. I think that school is going to make a big difference in their community.”

Two years ago, Delacruz said, he never could have imagined himself doing what he’s done or going where he has.

“I was just like any other person before I joined,” he wrote. “I used to work a lot at odds-and-ends jobs. But what I’ve gotten to do with the Marines has changed me for the better. Some of the changes I’ve seen in myself have been an increased sense of responsibility and my enhanced appreciation for everyday life.”

A Coachella native, Delacruz moved to Patterson with his wife, Raquel, and their two children to be closer to family before he returned to duty in September. After his service, Delacruz said, he hopes to pursue a career as a policeman.

“It’s hard for him to be away, but what he’s doing has made me so proud of him,” Raquel Delacruz said. “He has become so strong and mature for our family. I know what he doing is making all the difference.”

• Contact Kendall Wright at 892-6187 or kendall@pattersonirrigator.com.
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