Total Failure
The Annual Stolen Valor Awards: The Fecal Four

SGT Catalina Ruiz - Someone You Should Know

A tragedy at Fort Bragg/Fayetteville, NC; senseless domestic violence, costing the US Army, a talented Soldier and leader that her battalion commander described as "just hitting her stride".


Sergeant Catalina Ruiz was a Supply Sergeant and Armorer in HQ Company, 112th Special Operations Signal Battalion (Abn). Notable in her Service was her tour as a Cultural Support Team Leader in Afghanistan.  From her biography:

SGT Ruiz volunteered for and was selected to attend the Cultural Support Team Assessment in October 2010.  She graduated from both Phase 1 and Phase 2 in December 2010.  Following graduation, SGT Ruiz was attached to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) for deployment to Afghanistan, supporting Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan (CJSOTF-A) from January to August 2011.  She served as Team Leader for Cultural Support Team Seven.  Led by SGT Ruiz, this all-female team was instrumental in providing support to Afghan women by creating and implementing a Weekly Women's Workshop in which her team brought Afghan women together for food, fellowship, and training.

US Army Special Operations Command embarked on an interesting project called "Cultural Support Teams" as deployable, all-female units that could engage segments of the local Afghan populace that are difficult to reach - women.  The value of women Soldiers accompanying village patrols led to this effort (also done by the the Marines under the moniker of 'Female Engagement Teams').  SGT Ruiz answered the call for volunteers and, after a selection process followed by an intense train up, deployed with CST-7 as the Team Leader.  

Instead of a potential follow-on tour, or an NCO with unique experiences to train future CSTs, she'll be laid to rest, the victim of a vindictive predator.  She was shot to death in an apparent murder-suicide, after being abucted from her apartment by a man against whom she had a restraining order.  When the Fayetteville police identifed her abductor's vehicle, and approached, he fired at police then killed SGT Ruiz, before turning his weapon on himself.

A brief news item with some of the details:

A native of Phoenix, AZ, she will be laid to rest there on October 15th.  

SGT Ruiz is survived by her mother, Rosemary Martinez of Phoenix, Arizona, her father Juan Miguel Ayon, and her three children, Jonathan Ruiz, Alycia Cummings, and Warren Cummings IV.

The senselessness of this is stark; it highlights the scourge of domestic violence, of the fragility of life, and how - even in garrison - one must always be on guard.