Ignacio “Buck” Cruz (1927 – 2017) was a public servant, World War II survivor and a long time Malesso’/Merizo Mayor. Cruz served as commissioner and mayor of Malesso’ for 21 years before stepping down in 2000.

The son of Ramon Padilla Cruz and Justa Santiago Cruz, Cruz was the youngest of six children. Born in the village of Malesso‘ in 1927, Cruz attended Japanese school during the island’s occupation in World War II (1941-1944). He later attended the University of Guam where he majored in Psychology and Sociology. Prior to graduating with honors, Cruz was a model student who was listed in the Who’s Who Among Students and Universities and Colleges in America.

Cruz worked as a teacher before enlisting in the US Marine Corps in 1951. While in the Marines, he enrolled in a number of professional military courses including the Staff Non-Commissioned Officer School and the Officers Basic Extension Course.

Having been a Marine Corps Drill Instructor, Cruz also holds the distinction of attaining the rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant, the highest enlisted rank in the US Marine Corps. Cruz belonged to the 3rd Marine Division Association.

He served as president of the Guam Club of Hawai’i, the Guam Society of Norfolk, and the Hafa Adai Club of Okinawa. In addition, he chaired the Board of Directors for the Guam Senior Citizens Division and the Guam Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Malesso’ Elementary School PTA, the Malesso’ Water Festival and the Boy Scouts Troop Committee of Malesso’. Cruz represented the island of Guam in national and international conferences.

He also served as Chairman of the Malesso’ Municipal Planning Council Foundation and as a Notary Public in and for the Territory of Guam. Cruz was a Knight of Columbus in the 4th Degree and a parochial school teacher. He occupied leadership positions in a number of civic organizations.

In 1985, he was the Guam representative to the UN Conference in Bangkok for the 3rd Asian and Pacific Ministerial Conference on Social Welfare and Social Development. In 1986, he represented Guam in the American Society on Aging 36th Anniversary Meeting in San Francisco and the Pacific Gerontological Society’s Conference on Aging in Hawaii.

Cruz was instrumental in creating the Tinta and Faha Massacre Memorials in Malesso’, which pays respect to those massacred in the caves during World War II. Cruz’s father, Ramon Padilla Cruz, was killed in the Tinta Massacre.

Cruz was selected as the grand marshal for the 69th Guam Liberation Day Parade in 2013. He was also known for being a strong advocate for seniors, the environment, and the CHamoru culture. He was married to his wife Maria for 60 years. Together they had two children, Steven and Lelani.

By Shannon J. Murphy