|Birth: ||Dec. 7, 1972|
|Death: ||Jan. 26, 2005, Iraq|
By Fanny S. Chirinos Caller-Times
January 29, 2005
Flying was a lifelong dream for Marine Capt. Paul Christopher "Chris" Alaniz. He achieved that dream and died doing what he loved aboard a military helicopter in the sands of Iraq.
Alaniz, 32, was one of two pilots of the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter that crashed Wednesday morning near Ar Rutbah, Iraq, killing 30 Marines and a sailor, military officials said. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Alaniz was assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. This was his second tour in Iraq.
Seven Marines from around the state died in the crash, including the most recent confirmed death of Lance Cpl. Fred Maciel, 20, of Spring. Maciel was assigned to the 3rd Marine Division, based at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
Alaniz’s sister Yvette Musik of Lubbock said that from the time her brother was little, all he wanted was to earn his wings and fly.
"He was an amazing life force," Musik, 34, said. "He was all about family. His success was everybody’s success. When he took to the air, we all went with him."
The last e-mail the family received from Alaniz was sent the day he left for his final mission. He described the sandstorms.
"In my heart, I think they got caught up in a sandstorm," she said. "The last words he spoke to me were ’I love you, ciao.’ He was the only person who really knew me. We spent a lifetime together. He was my friend, my playmate, my brother and my defender."
Olympia Reeves, a former co-worker of Alaniz’s when he worked at Miller High School as a substitute teacher from 1995-1997, remembered him talking about his ultimate goal.
"He wanted to be a helicopter pilot more than anyone else I’d ever known," said Reeves, now a library associate at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. "He was very focused, honest and confident. He believed in what the Corps stood for. Not too many people get to do what they want and believe in it so much."
An image of Alaniz with his family at a midnight Mass during Christmas years ago will last forever in her mind, she said.
"He was in full military dress and was so proud to be a Marine," she recalled. "He lived by (the Corps’) code. That’s how he taught, how he made friends and how he did his job - with honor and respect. He knew how to be a man."
Dina Infante, secretary to the principal at Miller High School, described Alaniz as the sort of substitute you’d want in a school.
During the past 10 years, Infante said she has seen many substitute teachers come and go and she only remembers the ones who stood out.
"He stood out," she said. "I’d watch him in the hall with the kids. He interacted great with the students. He was a perfect, classy gentleman."
Alaniz entered the service in June 1996 and joined his squadron in April 2004. His awards include the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, three awards of the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal and a Meritorious Unit Commendation.
Alaniz is survived by his wife, Thelma; 18-month-old daughter, Yvette, both of San Diego, Calif,; mother, Maria Cynthia Quiroz, of Dumas; sister, Yvette Musik; brothers, Joseph Pizano of Lubbock and Mark Pizano of Houston.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Garden of Memories Cemetery
Created by: Cindy
Record added: Feb 01, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 10411911