Memorial event celebrates life and legacy of Richard De La Cruz Sr., co-founder of Menifee nonprofit Operation Silver Star

Family, friends, and former co-workers, along with local and state leaders, representatives, and others, came together on Friday to honor the life and many achievements of long-time Riverside County resident Richard De La Cruz Sr. 

Richard, who spent nearly 25 years working as a code enforcement officer serving the areas of Moreno Valley, Lake Elsinore, Banning, and Desert Hot Springs, tragically passed away on Feb. 17, after losing his battle with Covid-19. He was also co-founder of Operation Silver Star, a Menifee-based nonprofit focused on helping our nation’s wounded and returning combat veterans – along with their families – with financial assistance, help with hospital-related travel and lodging expenses, and other support.


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Following a memorial service and motorcade escorted by Riverside County Sheriff’s motor-deputies, attendees gathered at the Temecula Valley VFW Post 4089, where songs were sung, heartfelt tributes were made, stories were shared, and a memorial video was featured, all of which highlighted the countless ways Richard touched the lives of so many others throughout the community and beyond.

During the well-attended event, proclamations and recognitions were presented by the offices of California Senator Melendez, and California Assemblyman Kelly Seyarto, as well as Murrieta Mayor Jonathan Ingram and Murrieta City Councilmember Cindy Gagliano Warren. City of Murrieta Code Enforcement Officer Linda Mejia also shared about Richard’s long career as a code enforcement officer.

Family, friends and loved ones were joined by local and state leaders and representatives who came together on Friday to celebrate the life, legacy, and accomplishments of Operation Silver Star co-founder Richard De La Cruz Sr. Seen with Delia De La Cruz, his wife of 41 years, Richard passed away on Feb. 17th due to Covid-related complications. Operation Silver Star photo

Born in Los Angeles on March 4, 1956, Richard is survived by Delia De La Cruz, his wife of 41 years.

He is also survived by eight children, including Elizabeth Alagao, Richard De La Cruz Jr, Jesus De La Cruz, Adriana Nguyen, Koreena Delgado, Michael De La Cruz, Anthony De La Cruz and 18 grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his daughter Jennie De La Cruz.

Although he never served in the military himself, three of Richard’s sons saw combat in the armed services, including one who was seriously injured and lost his left leg below the knee when his unit was attacked and he was hit by a rocket propelled grenade while responding to an IED found near Bayji, Iraq.

While visiting their son as he recovered in a military hospital, Richard and Delia saw that many of the wounded service members did not have any family or loved ones by their side and soon learned that many of their families simply could not afford the cost of travel and lodging associated with visiting their combat-injured loved ones.

The revelation ultimately led Richard to co-found Operation Silver Star.

“Richard loved his community and especially our nation’s veterans and he dedicated his life to serving others,” long-time Temecula Valley resident and co-founder of the award-winning Murrieta nonprofit MilVet, Raven Hilden, told RCNS after the memorial and celebration of life event she helped organize.

“Richard was the hands and feet of Operation Silver Star, which he co-founded in 2012,” Delia told RCNS after Friday’s celebration of life and memorial event, describing her late husband as a “devoted patriot”.

“He took calls at all hours of the night and devoted his time and energy to helping veterans. He did all this as a volunteer while in his retirement years,” she explained. “Even while in the hospital battling Covid, he was still trying to work to try and help our combat-injured veterans with their own overwhelming problems.”

“This was how he served his country, by serving our military veterans,” she continued.

“It was beautiful to see our friends and family come together to share memories of how Richard touched their lives in some way,” Delia De La Cruz, (second from left), said after Friday’s well-attended event. Raven Hilden – MilVet photo

“Even though Richard never wore the uniform, he was a true American Patriot and was a pillar of Veteran’s support in Riverside County and beyond,” long-time friend, VFW representative and event co-organizer John Z. Hernandez, (MSgt Ret.), told RCNS today.

“Personally, I will miss him and his passion that matched his heart for our local Veterans,” he added.

Delia went on to say, “Friday was a pretty tough day for our family, yet it was beautiful to see our friends and family come together to share memories of how Richard touched their lives in some way.”

“Thank you to all that have been a support to our family during this past week. I am grateful to have such loving friends and I cannot thank you all enough for all your support,” she continued, adding, “Most of all, thank you for loving my husband.”

A GoFundMe account has been established to help the De La Cruz family with Richard’s medical costs and burial expenses. As of this morning the fundraiser had accumulated around $7,000 toward the family’s $20,000 goal.

Contact the writer: [email protected]

Trevor Montgomery, 51, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and operates Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS), which act as stringer-news providers for other mainstream media organizations throughout the two regions they serve.

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.