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    New installation commander reflects on military career; looks forward to time at JBAB

    JBAB Commander

    Photo By Eric Ritter | Navy Capt. Jose L. Rodriguez assumed command of Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling,...... read more read more



    Story by Michelle Gordon 

    Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling

    By Michelle L. Gordon
    Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Public Affairs

    Nearly three months ago, Navy Capt. Jose L. Rodriguez assumed command of Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB). During that same time, he celebrated 24 years of active duty service. However, the Queens, New York native is the first to admit he never imagined he would be where he is today. He knew he wanted to serve, but thought it would be something closer to home, possibly as a firefighter.

    “The New York City Fire Department was a constant reminder to me of service – the world saw that during 9/11 – but I grew up seeing that day-in and day-out,” said Rodriguez. “There were fire trucks constantly going back and forth through my neighborhood, and I remember, as a kid, jumping on my bike to follow the firefighters, to watch these heroes in action.”

    He thought of joining the fire department until high school when another interest grabbed his attention: aviation. He attended Aviation High School, a New York City vocational school, where students have the opportunity to graduate with an Airframe and Power Plant (A&P) license.

    “It was a trade school, not about flying,” he said. “Along with the typical high school curriculum, you were also afforded the opportunity to earn an A&P license, so you could graduate from high school with a certification and get hired by the airlines. I thought it was a great option, given I was looking toward a career in aviation.”

    He happened to come across a recruiter one day in the school cafeteria who told him about opportunities available in the Navy, one in particular called the Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection and Training (BOOST), a prep school that helps junior sailors become officers. At the time, Rodriguez said he wasn’t interested; he just wanted to enlist and serve while furthering his aviation technical training. But because of his recruiter’s encouragement, for which Rodriguez is thankful to this day, he applied and was accepted just prior to graduation.

    Even though he was set on joining the Navy, he was also only 17 years old and needed his parents’ approval before he could sign up. But they had concerns. It was only after the recruiter met with his parents and explained what their son would be doing that they gave their approval.

    “You have to understand, we were an immigrant family,” he said. “We moved to the States when I was a year old. Mom was a homemaker raising three kids; my dad worked in auto repair. We were a blue-collar family. The military to them – that was foreign. They didn’t know much about it other than what they read in the news or saw on TV. So, like good parents, they were worried. They weren’t crazy about the idea, but they weren’t fighting me, because they knew it was what I wanted to do. The recruiter came to the house, explained the plan, and they’ve been supportive ever since,” he said with a smile.

    Rodriguez completed the prep school, graduated from Jacksonville University four years later, and was commissioned in the United States Navy. Subsequently, he entered flight training and was designated a Naval Aviator in October 1997, fulfilling his high school dream of a career in aviation.

    Since joining the Navy, he met and married his wife, Nancy, and they have three amazing children: Stephen, Will, and Jackie.

    “They’re the best. They obviously take after their mom though, because I was not an easy kid to raise,” he said with a laugh.

    Prior to assuming command of JBAB, Rodriguez spent many years in Jacksonville, Florida, serving in numerous squadrons. His tours also include Quantico, VA; North Island, CA; and two tours at the Pentagon – one on the Joint Staff and one on the Navy Staff.

    Looking forward to his tour as the JBAB commander, Rodriguez said his top priority is the safety and security of our base residents and tenants. After that, he said one of his main focuses will be finding the delicate balance between modernizing and updating the base facilities, while also safeguarding the history.

    “One thing I’m sensitive about is the history behind the base, both the Bolling side and the [Anacostia] side,” he said. “There’s a lot of amazing history, and I don’t want anyone to lose sight of it as we continue to work to improve our facilities. Conserving that important aspect of our base, while at the same time modernizing it – that’s my challenge.”

    Rodriguez acknowledges that commanding an installation is very different from his previous assignments. In a helicopter squadron, the commander doesn’t have to manage facility repairs, emergency responses, power outages, and other typical challenges of a base commander.

    When he is not working on base issues, Rodriguez enjoys spending time with his family, being outdoors, grilling, and watching his favorite New York sports teams.

    As for his leadership style, he’s still very much influenced by what he learned as a boy growing up in Queens, chasing the fire engines on his bicycle.

    “I’m big on family and the team – the fire department, the police department, the military – it’s a team, it’s a family; and that aspect of it is very important to me. We all pitch-in and make it happen. It’s not about the individual. It’s not about self. It’s about serving others. That’s the basis of my command philosophy and how I try to live my life.”



    Date Taken: 05.11.2017
    Date Posted: 05.11.2017 11:56
    Story ID: 233464
    Location: WASHINGTON, DC, US 
    Hometown: QUEENS, NY, US

    Web Views: 815
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