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Army Sgt. Mario Rodriguez

Died June 11, 2010 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

24, of Smithville, Texas; assigned to the 264th Clearance Company, 27th Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Airborne), 20th Engineer Brigade, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died June 11 in Powrak, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

Joined Guard after graduating from high school

The Associated Press

Mario Rodriguez was a leader who helped keep high school teammates in line and fought to keep his units secure when he was serving overseas, friends said.

He played linebacker on the football team at Smithville High School and enjoyed going to Friday night games when he was home on leave.

“He was always there for people,” classmate Britni Fleming said. “He was extremely close to his friends. He was a shoulder to cry on, there when you needed him.”

Rodriguez, 24, of Smithville, Texas, died June 11 in Powrak, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit. He was assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C.

Rodriguez joined the National Guard in 2003 and had served in Kosovo and Iraq.

“He knew what his job was, and it didn’t scare him,” said Rosalva Rodriguez, one of his four sisters. “He was always worried about others being safe.”

His wife, Leslie, said their 7-year-old daughter, Raven, was the apple of his eye.

“He was going to teach her how to play soccer,” she said. “He always told her that he loved her big head.”

Rodriguez also is survived by his parents and two brothers.

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