LAS CRUCES – Retired U.S. Army Master Sgt. Daniel Munoz is the Grand Marshal for this year’s Fourth of July Electric Light Parade.
“Patriotic Spirit and American Dreams” is the theme for the 2022 parade, which will take place Sunday evening along parts of Solano Drive and Hadley Ave.
Munoz was born in Albuquerque but grew up in Hatch, where he graduated from Hatch Valley High in the top three of his class, a city news release said.
According to the statement, Munoz joined the military and served with the 82nd Airborne and 1st Ranger Battalion on five combat tours, two to Iraq and three to Afghanistan. He also won over 20 US Army awards and honors during this time.
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Munoz said he was happy when he received the email from the Las Cruces Department of Parks and Recreation letting him know he would be this year’s grand marshal.
“I was really excited. I’m honored to represent Las Cruces,” he said.
Munoz joined the military in 2000 and served for 15 years until his medical retirement due to a skydiving accident that left him with a torn ACL and ruptured meniscus. He has since fully recovered. Still, he left the army earlier than he wanted.
“I was disappointed because I would have liked to stay as long as possible,” Munoz said.
After retiring, Munoz returned to school in 2015 and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from American Military University. He said he decided to go into psychology because he wanted to be able to counsel and help other veterans.
After briefly working at a mental health institute, Muñoz joined the Veteran’s Fire Corp Crew with Conservation Corps New Mexico and later became a wildland firefighter and served three seasons, including one season with the Silver City Hotshots. He said being a firefighter reminded him of the military, as the structure was similar.
“I loved the adrenaline of getting on the fire, it was kind of a springboard for me,” he said.
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Munoz plans to get his master’s degree in psychology so he can further help veterans and their transition from the military to civilian life. He considered continuing as a firefighter, but said furthering his education seemed like the right path.
Her future goals are to raise her children, the youngest being 5 years old and about to start primary school.
The Electric Light Parade begins at 9 p.m. Sunday, July 3 at Apodaca Park, 801 E. Madrid Ave., and heads south on Solano, then east on Hadley before ending at the Maag Softball Complex.
Munoz will be on the first float, leading the parade.
Annya Loya is a general reporter and can be reached at [email protected] or @annyaloya on Twitter.