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Waubonsie thanks veterans
By Justin Kmitch | Daily Herald Staff

Marine Lance Corporal, and Navy Cross recipient Joshua Mooi, of Naperville, left, consoles Joe and Gloria Caruso, after they presented a plaque for their son and 1998 Waubonsie Valley alum, Marine Sgt. David Caruso.

 

Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

Marine Lance Corporal Joshua Mooi, of Naperville, was one of several veterans honored Monday at Waubonsie Valley High School. Holding his hat is his wife, Jessica Mooi.

 

Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

Marine Lance Corporal Joshua Mooi, formerly of Bolingbrook, now living in Naperville, listens to a proclamation being read by Naperville Mayor George Pradel, detailing the actions Mooi took in Iraq which led to him being awarded the Navy Cross.

 

Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

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Published: 11/10/2009 12:03 AM

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Since his death in a Nov. 9, 2004 firefight in Fallujah, Iraq, Marine Sgt. David Caruso's parents have kept his Naperville bedroom as a living memorial.

On Monday, the fifth anniversary of his death, Joseph and Gloria Jean Caruso added another honor to his medal collection. during an emotional salute to veterans at his Alma matter, Waubonsie Valley High School.

"What a touching tribute. We did not know they would be doing this but it's a very nice touch," Joe Caruso said. "But if David were here, I know he would just say he was just doing his job."

Assistant Principal Rudy Keller organized Monday's all-school assembly to honor Caruso and the nation's approximately 43 million veterans.

"Our students, staff and entire Waubonsie Valley community thank David and our other veterans for serving our country," Keller said. "It's important for everyone to know that."

Students also heard from retired three-star Lt. General Randall Rigby about the importance of honoring veterans and heard the heroic tale of Naperville resident Marine Lance Corporal Joshua Mooi, who received the Navy Cross, the highest honor bestowed on a Marine by the President.

Mooi was one of four Marines and a Navy Corpsman decorated for actions in Operation Steel Curtain, on November 16, 2005, in Iraq. "Often alone in his efforts, he continued to destroy the enemy and rescue wounded Marines until his rifle was destroyed by enemy fire and he was ordered to withdraw," his citation reads. "His valiant efforts were essential to saving the lives of 10 Marines and inspired the company to destroy 18 insurgents in the battle that ended further enemy resistance."

Mooi carries a small purple sack with him every day as a reminder of the men wounded and killed that day. Inside it are four fragments of the AK-47 assault rifle bullets that destroyed his gun.

"I would do it all over again," Mooi said Monday. "When you're a Marine, you're responsible for your fellow Marines and servicemen, so I was just caring for family."