Sgt. Clinton Keith Ruiz died Thursday when his unit was hit by gunfire in Khas Uruzgan in Oruzgan Province.
He was assigned to Alpha Company, 9th Military Information Support battalion (Airborne), 8th Military Information Support Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, N.C.
He graduated from Murrieta Valley High School in 2008 and enlisted in the Army in May 2009. A family member said Ruiz was born in Poway but moved to Murrieta as a child.
In the Army, he attended psychological operations training and Korean language school, graduating in August 2010.
Ruiz deployed to Afghanistan in September of 2012.
“He was a great kid and guy,” said Tim Baker, the business partner of Ruiz’s father.
“Never a trouble maker,” Baker said in a telephone interview Saturday night.
He recalled how his own son and Ruiz would laugh together over the silliest things.
“He was a normal young man,” he said, noting Ruiz’s “high spirit.
Ruiz’s parents were in Dover, Del., Saturday to receive his body.
They said in a written statement: "Our family mourns the loss of our precious young man who exhibited remarkable character and compassion as a son, brother, grandson, husband, father and soldier. Our son, Sgt. Clinton K. Ruiz, will forever be remembered for the ultimate sacrifice he made for his country.
"May God bless and keep you son," the statement said.
It included the names of the sergeant's parents, Carla Trease and John Ruiz, and his brother Parker Ruiz.
Ruiz’s awards include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Afghan Campaign Medal (Campaign Star), Global War on Terrorism Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Army Service Ribbon and Parachutist Badge.
He is survived by his wife, Kira, and their son, Caleb, who was born in 2011.