New Jersey Army National Guard Cpl. Michael Ariza, 29, served honorable in the US Marine Corps from 2016 to 2020. Cops in New York continue to search for the suspect who stole his car and the uniforms stored inside it. Photos courtesy of Michael Ariza. Coffee or Die Magazine composite.
A New York Marine veteran just wants the thief who stole his Honda Civic to return his dress blues and all the other boot camp-issued uniforms that were stowed in his trunk.
“Every single uniform that I was issued in the Corps was in the trunk. They took everything,” Michael Ariza, 29, told Coffee or Die Magazine. “Even the covers to the boots and the shoes.”
New York City Police Officer Taylor Cannon, a department spokesperson, said 77th Precinct cops found Ariza’s 2019 sedan abandoned in Brooklyn on Sept. 12, but they haven’t recovered his covers, and they have no leads on a suspect.
Ariza told Coffee or Die he wasn’t using his Honda as a footlocker. He put them there to transport. Now the only mementos of the Marines he has left are some medals, award certificates, a braided fourragere, and a pair of boots he’d left in his residence.
“Everything else is gone,” he said.
Staten Island, New York, veteran Michael Ariza (left) was promoted to corporal in the US Marine Corps in June of 2018. Photo courtesy of Michael Ariza.
Headquarters Marine Corps confirmed to Coffee or Die that Ariza had enlisted in the Corps in 2016, graduated from boot camp at Parris Island, trained as a motor transportation operator, and been stationed at Camp Pendleton in California for much of his four years of service.
He left the corps as a corporal and hoped to wear the blood stripe at his wedding and to funerals.
“I'm sure anyone could say, ‘Oh, he could just buy a new pair.’ But it's not the same thing,” Ariza said. “They hold sentimental value. Every uniform I had, they were ones that I wore, either very often or every day for four years of my life.”
After his honorable discharge, Ariza became a postal worker, but he continues to serve in the military, too.
A first-degree black belt in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, he’s a New Jersey Army National Guard corporal who teaches fighting skills to soldiers at Picatinny Arsenal.
Noelle is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die through a fellowship from Military Veterans in Journalism. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and interned with the US Army Cadet Command. Noelle also worked as a civilian journalist covering several units, including the 75th Ranger Regiment on Fort Benning, before she joined the military as a public affairs specialist.
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