Why does the community love Cruz so much?
According to stories posted on the “I Love Kailua” community page on Facebook, many people experienced Cruz offering advice to those in need or protecting young people in Kailua.
Former Kailua resident DeeDee Gualdarama-Leong shared this story on the page:
“10th grade. I was talking to a friend and was not looking and [Cruz] grabbed me before a car came and banged the bus stop. Then 11th grade. Some grunts was harassing me, he told them to get the f*** away from his kids. 12th grade I was crying at the bus stop and he told me life is what u make out of it so think about it before u do bad, the Lord would not like that. I stopped crying and hugged him. I still go by that saying to this day.. thank u Lord for putting John in my life. I am truly blessed to call John my angel.”
In addition to a guardian angel, Stolfi-Tow has come to think of Cruz as a centurion for the community because of his military service and his tendency to wear fatigues.
After serving in Vietnam, she told HuffPost, “he took up another post here … He took his post and stood there day in and day out. He watched over everybody in his fatigues all day long. I realized that he was our guard. He watched over us.”
This story was originally published on HuffPost Hawaii.