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GUAM BJJ STAMP IN AFGHANISTAN

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By Patrick Lujan

PFC Matt Cruz and 600 other Guam National Guard soldiers are currently serving out country in Afghanistan. (courtesy photo)

PFC Matt Cruz and 600 other Guam National Guard soldiers are currently serving out country in Afghanistan. (courtesy photo)

The soldier is the Army. No army is better than its soldiers. The Soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country”
― Gen George S. Patton, Jr.

The Citizen Warrior ethos couldn’t be explained any better.

More than 600 soldiers from our Guam National Guard are currently living the words of Gen Patton in Afghanistan. While away during their year-long deployment, most members try to adapt to some sort of normality. For some, the sport of Jiu-Jitsu is the exact prescription needed.

Private First Class Matt Cruz may not be a General in rank, but he’s been leading the Jiu-Jitsu movement in their assigned camp. In fact, he’s been able to fit in training sessions at the camp gym on a daily basis since arriving to their assigned location.

They’ve worked out a schedule with the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) for daily 1700-1900 (5-7 p.m.) sessions – “depending on the missions,” Cruz said.

“More and more people are picking it up,” said the blue belt practitioner. “We’re doing it because it’s the best way to stay in shape and spread the sport a little. We have the passion for it.”

(L-R): Christian Cruz , Kevin Dunn , Mark Sandoval , Matt Cruz , Joey Togawa , Josh Cruz, (kneeling ) Daniel Santos. (courtesy photo)

(L-R): Christian Cruz , Kevin Dunn , Mark Sandoval , Matt Cruz , Joey Togawa , Josh Cruz, (kneeling ) Daniel Santos. (courtesy photo)

The group of Guam regulars on the mat are:

PFC Matt Cruz blue

SPC Josh Cruz blue

PFC Kevin Dunn white

SPC Mark Sandoval white

PFC Daniel Santos white

Lt Joey Togawa white

The vibe, which started during their pre-mobility stage in Mississippi, is certainly spreading.

“We also have civilians who are coming in to learn six to 15 of them per session,” Cruz added.

Fallen colleague

Josh Cruz and Dan Santos go over escapes. (courtesy photo)

Josh Cruz and Dan Santos go over escapes during their deployment in Afghanistan. (courtesy photo)

Cruz added that Sgt Eugene Aguon, one of two Guam Guardsmen who was killed in early May, would normally be in the gym working out during the time the jiu jitsu sessions were going on.

Although he didn’t roll on the mats, Cruz said that Aguon was dedicated to his workouts. “I really wish he did (try Jiu-Jitsu). We went to middle school together at Agueda (Johnston Middle School).”

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