Capt. Paul Christopher Alaniz
Died Jan. 26, 2005 in Ar Rutbah, Iraq
Capt. Paul C. Alaniz, of Corpus Christi, Texas, was known by his middle name Christopher. A perfect, classy gentleman, he always excelled at everything he tried, but didn’t drawn attention to himself. Christopher had one goal main goal in life and that was to be a pilot for the United States Marine Corps, an obsession he had from an early age. His father died when Christopher was young, and he wore his father’s Marine Corp’s medallion as a keepsake and inspiration. Looking up at the sky could name any aircraft he laid his eyes on. After graduating from high school he earned a degree in English and a minor in History at Texas Tech University in 1996, the same year he entered the Marine Corps Reserves. He earned his wings in Florida; his whole family flying there watch. For Christopher it was one his greatest achievements, his success was there success too. His duty post was at Miramar, California, and it was there he met his wife, Thelma, who also was a Marine. Christopher left for Iraq shortly after the birth of their daughter in the summer of 2003 and came home in March 2004. In August 2004 he deployed again, assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, from the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. Christopher told his family of a particular mission he had there. He had tremendous respect and honor for those in the military who sacrificed all for their country. He always stood for what was right. Christopher flew out his CH-53E helicopter to pick up some cargo and when he arrived there, he learned he would also be transporting two fellow Marines who had been killed in action. Christopher insisted that the only cargo that was to be placed on his helicopter was their remains. No cargo. He insisted they have their own flight. He’d come back for the cargo later. A few weeks later on January 26, Christopher was the co-pilot on a CH-53E when it went down in a fierce sandstorm, killing him and 29 other Marines.
Captain Alaniz was buried in Garden of Memories Cemetery in Menard, Texas. His headstone bears the simple phrase “Gentleman, Scholar and Inspiration to all who knew him.