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Air Force Maj. Rodolfo I. Rodriguez

Died September 20, 2008 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom


34, of El Paso, Texas; assigned to the 86th Construction & Training Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany; died Sept. 20 in the bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Major killed in Pakistan hotel blast remembered

By Bruce Rolfsen

Staff writer

The Air Force major killed by a terrorist bomb in Pakistan is remembered as an officer who led by example.

Maj. Rodolfo I. Rodriguez, 34, of Ramstein Air Base, Germany, was among the more than 50 people killed Saturday in an attack on the Marriott hotel in Islamabad. Rodriguez, a civil engineering officer, was in Pakistan to train the Pakistani military. His home unit was Ramstein’s 86th Construction and Training Squadron.

The other American service member lost in the bombing was Navy Cryptologic Technician 3rd Class Matthew J. O’Bryant, 22, of Duluth, Ga. He was assigned to the Navy Information Operations Command at Fort Meade, Md.

No one would say why the servicemen were in or near the hotel, although it is known as a popular meeting place for foreigners in the Pakistani capital. The bombing occurred just days after the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, visited Pakistan and confirmed reports that American military units had crossed from Afghanistan into Pakistan and targeted militants there.

At Ramstein, Maj. Andrew Sheehan met Rodriguez three years ago and the pair became friends.

“He was my sponsor when arrived at the base,” Sheehan recalled.

Together, the two civil engineers worked on several projects at Ramstein including airfield improvements, security upgrades and a gymnasium.

“He would handle the design and I’d do construction management,” Sheehan said.

Rodriguez was the son of immigrant parents and grew up in El Paso, Texas. He earned selection to the Air Force Academy and graduated from there in 1998.

Sheehan said Rodriguez was proud of going from a child who learned English as his second language to being commissioned an Air Force officer. The wide range of experiences meant Rodriguez could relate to airmen of any rank.

“He wasn’t afraid to get his boots dirty,” Sheehan said.

From the academy, Rodriguez went on to serve in civil engineer units, including a tour at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., before his assignment to Ramstein. He was promoted to major in December 2007, according to Air Force records.

The deployment to Pakistan was Rodriguez’s third lengthy Central Command assignment since 2001, including six months at Kirkuk Air Base, Iraq, in 2006, Sheehan said.

A memorial service is being held this week at Ramstein.

The major’s survivors include his wife, Caryn; mother, Minerva Rivas; and two brothers.


Air Force Maj. Rodolfo I. Rodriguez remembered

The Associated Press

Rodolfo I. Rodriguez was the son of immigrant parents and earned selection to the Air Force Academy. He was proud of going from a child who learned English as his second language to being commissioned an officer.

The wide range of experiences meant Rodriguez could relate to airmen of any rank. “He wasn’t afraid to get his boots dirty,” said Maj. Andrew Sheehan.

Rodriguez, 34, of El Paso, Texas, killed by a terrorist bomb in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Sept. 20. A civil engineering officer, he was assigned to Ramstein Air Base.

After graduating from the academy in 1998, Rodriguez went on to serve in civil engineer units, including a tour at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The deployment to Pakistan was Rodriguez’s third lengthy assignment since 2001, including six months at Kirkuk Air Base, Iraq, in 2006.

Repeatedly described as a quiet man, Rodriguez listened much more than he spoke. “For those of us who have a tendency to perhaps say a few too many words, we are quick to be quiet when Rod is speaking because there is wisdom in his words,” Sheehan said.

He is survived by his wife, Caryn.

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