Rear Adm. Cruz was raised in San Antonio, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1980. He reported aboard USS Gray (FF 1054) and during his tour served as electronic materials officer, auxiliary-repair-electrical officer, damage control assistant, and acting engineering department head. In 1982, he was awarded the Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet's Shiphandler-of-the-Year Award. In 1984, he joined the staff at the U.S. Naval Academy and served as an admissions officer and congressional liaison officer. In 1986, he accepted a commission in the U.S. Navy Reserve.
Cruz has held numerous operational and staff positions in the special operations and special warfare areas, including multiple tours of duty within the Navy Expeditionary Combat Enterprise and Naval Special Warfare community. His six command tours were with Navy Region Southwest Reserve Component Command; Navy Reserve (NR) Navy Expeditionary Combat Command; NR Naval Inspector General 106; Harbor Defense Command 207; NR Naval Special Warfare Unit 2; and, Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit 206. Other assignments included tours with Naval Special Warfare Group 2; Naval Coastal Warfare Group 2; Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit 210; and, Naval Inshore Undersea Warfare Group 2.
His personal decorations include the Legion of Merit (2 awards), the Meritorious Service Medal (3 awards), the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (3 awards), and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3 awards). He is a qualified advanced military parachutist (gold wings) and basic diver.
Cruz’s first assignment as a flag officer was as deputy commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and deputy commander, U.S. 4th Fleet in Mayport, Fla. Cruz assumed his current role as Reserve deputy director, maritime operations (N04R) at U.S. Fleet Forces Command in October 2012.
Cruz holds a master’s degree in marketing from the University of Maryland and a juris doctorate degree from The Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America.