GUSTINE, Wash. - “Sergeant Rodriguez personified what it meant to be a Soldier and a leader in the United States Army,” said Capt. Brandon Wohlschlegel, B Company Commander 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, in comments sent from downrange. “His devotion to duty and selfless service to his unit, the Army and his company were self evident. He believed he owed it to his soldiers who helped train over the past year.”
Soldiers, friends and families at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, gathered to remember the life of Sgt. Jose Rodriguez, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, during a ceremony at the Lewis North Chapel, July 25.
Rodriguez died June 19, in the service of his country, from wounds he sustained during an enemy small arms attack on his unit near Maiwand, in the Kandahar province, Afghanistan.
Soldiers, friends and family at the ceremony had many fond memories to share about the soldier and father who was on his second deployment to Afghanistan. One soldier in particular had lost someone who had made a vital impact in his life.
During a foot patrol platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Eric Howard, a radioman and a medic were all critically injured when a command detonated improvised explosive device exploded.
Rodriguez was there to provide medical aid to all three soldiers before they were to be evacuated on a helicopter. Howard was bleeding badly, but Rodriguez worked hard to stop the bleeding by applying two tourniquets and his actions saved Howard’s life.
“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Sgt. Rodriguez.” Howard said. “He stayed by my side until our helicopter came. I can never repay him for what he has done.”
An enduring characteristic that Rodguez was known for was his leadership ability and desire to go the extra mile to do what was right without complaint.
“Sgt. Rodriguez, who already had on his medium ruck sack and gear, was asked to carry an extra mine sweeper in the 100-plus degree weather. I remember thinking in my own mind a lesser man would have made a comment or complained about the heavy load,” Wohlschlegel said. “Sgt. Rod didn’t make a peep. He came over and took the extra gear and moved out.”
In his closing comments Capt. Wohlschlegel shared what it meant to him to have a soldier like Sgt. Rodriguez to work with daily.
“Sgt. Rod, I will forever be in awe of the selfless example that you set for not only the Soldiers you led and your peers, but for your leaders as well,” Wohlschlegel said. “To his son, I want you to know when you are older, your father was brave and courageous to his last breath.”
Sgt. Jose Rodriguez the Gustine and Newman, Calif., native graduated from Gustine High School in 2008 and enlisted in the United States Army in August of 2008.
This was his second deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The first was July 2009 to June 2010. He deployed with the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team in April to Afghanistan.
He is survived by his wife, Maria Rodriguez, his son Octavian Rodriguez; his parents Margarita Rodriguez and Augustine Rodriguez; his brothers, Ruben, Julian, Edgar, and Jonathon Rodriguez; his sisters Judith and Jacqueline Rodriguez.
His awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Ribbon, NATO Medal and Combat Infantry Badge.