Army Sgt. 1st Class Luis R. Laluz, far right, of Staten Island, N.Y., offers soldiers weight-lifting tips in a gym at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, May 4, 2009. An amateur bodybuilder and former bodybuilding champion, Laluz started a physical fitness program for soldiers in his unit, the 321st Sustainment Brigade. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kiyoshi C. Freeman
Face of Defense: NYPD Officer’s Service Spans from Vietnam to IraqAmerican Forces Press Service
AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq, June 2, 2009 – From the jungles of Vietnam to the streets of New York City to the deserts of Iraq, one Army noncommissioned officer has proved his dedication to the country through decades of service.
A 58-year-old veteran of the Vietnam War, Sgt. 1st Class Luis R. Laluz, 321st Sustainment Brigade, said he remembers spending 1969 and 1970 face down in a rice paddy with an NCO by his side. Now, 40 years later, he's the veteran NCO all young soldiers look up to for inspiration and advice.
Laluz, who started his service as a member of the Army Reserve in New York City, admitted he thought he was done with overseas deployments; he did his time in a combat zone and that was enough.
"But how can you put a limit to it?" said the Staten Island, N.Y., native. "You can do five years, 20 years, 30 years -- is it really enough when your country needs you?"
The war on terrorism hit close to home for the New York City police officer, who lost two relatives on 9/11.
With a harsh, rapid-fire New York City accent and a stocky, muscular build, Laluz stands out from most soldiers in the 321st, a Reserve unit from Louisiana. The amateur bodybuilder, who started lifting weights when he was 12 years old, won the Mr. New Jersey Shore and Mr. America titles in 1983 and 1989, respectively. ...
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Thank YOU for your service, Sir!