Pedro Rodríguez (soldier)

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Pedro Rodríguez
Rodriguez pedro 72.jpg
Master Sergeant Pedro Rodríguez
Earned two Silver Star Medals in one week
Born (1912-01-03)January 3, 1912
Lajas, Puerto Rico
Died October 19, 1999(1999-10-19) (aged 87)
Washington, D.C.
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Department of the Army Seal.svg United States Army
Years of service 1937–
Rank US Army WWII MSGT.svg
Master Sergeant
Unit 65 Inf Rgt DUI.png 65th Infantry Regiment
Battles/wars World War II
Korean War
Awards Silver Star ribbon.svg Silver Star (2)
Purple Heart BAR.svg Purple Heart

Master Sergeant Pedro Rodríguez (January 3, 1912 – October 19, 1999), earned two Silver Stars within a seven-day period during the Korean War.[1]

Early years[edit]

Rodríguez was born Lajas, Puerto Rico into a poor family. Rodríguez did not have a formal education. His father owned an ox cart and earned a living by delivering goods to the town's merchants. Rodríguez rose early in the morning to help his father. Together they went to the railroad station, where they loaded the goods onto their ox cart and then delivered them. When he was 14 years old, his father died and he had to take over the ox cart and the financial responsibility of his family. The economic situation became so bad that in 1937, when he was 25 years old, he joined the U.S. Army.

World War II[edit]

Rodríguez was assigned to the 65th Infantry, the all Puerto Rican Regiment and was stationed in Panama. When World War II broke out, the 65th Infantry was sent to North Africa. On September 1944, his company landed in Marseilles, France and marched north into Germany without any major incident.[2]

Korean War[edit]

After the war, the 65th Infantry was stationed in Puerto Rico. The 65th was deployed to Korea, upon the outbreak of the Korean War on August 26, 1950. By the time the "Borinqueneers", as the 65th was known, reached Korea, Rodríguez had been promoted to the rank of sergeant.[2]

First Silver Star

Sgt. Rodríguez was a member of Company F and on March 24, 1951, he led his unit to secure Hill 476. A camouflaged enemy machine gun opened fire on them and Sgt. Rodríguez led a squad with fixed bayonets on an assault on the area from which the gunfire came from. The enemy fled leaving their supplies behind. For his actions, Sgt. Rodríguez was awarded his first Silver Star Medal.

2nd Silver Star Medal

A week later on March 31, his company was attacking Hill 398, near Choksong-Myon, when they came under an enemy mortar barrage. The enemy pinned down and inflicted heavy casualties on the lead platoon. Sgt. Rodríguez was ordered to assist the stalled unit and led his platoon in an assault that routed the enemy. Sgt. Rodríguez was awarded a second Silver Star Medal.[3]

Silver Star citations[edit]

Silver Star medal.png

Rodríguez, Pedro
Organization:HEADQUARTERS 3D INFANTRY DIVISION
G.O. # 196 – 17 June 1951

Citation:

MASTER SERGEANT PEDRO RODRIGUEZ, RA6674697, Infantry, Company "F", 65th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division, United States Army. On 24 March 1951, near Kopi-Dong, Korea, Sergeant RODRIGUEZ, acting as platoon leader in the absence of a commissioned officer, was leading his unit to secure Hill 476, when the enemy opened fire from a well camouflaged machine gun nest. Although he did not know the exact location of the gun, Sergeant RODRIGUEZ ordered one squad to fix bayonets and assault the general area from which the fire was coming. After the enemy weapon fired again, Sergeant RODRIGUEZ charged the position, yelling and shooting his rifle demoralizing the enemy and causing him to flee in haste, taking his gun with him, but leaving ammunition and rations behind. The gallantry and extreme devotion to duty displayed by Sergeant RODRIGUEZ reflect great credit upon himself and the military service. Entered the military service from Puerto Rico.[4]

Silver Star medal.png

Rodríguez, Pedro
Organization:HEADQUARTERS 3D INFANTRY DIVISION
G.O. # 261 – 8 July 1951

Citation:

MASTER SERGEANT PEDRO RODRIGUEZ, RA6674697, Infantry, Company "F", 65th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division, United States Army. On 31 March 1951, near Choksong-myon, Korea, Company "F" was attacking Hill 398, defended by a firmly entrenched enemy supported by mortars. At some distance from the top of the hill, the lead platoon was halted by intense machine gun fire and fragmentation grenades, suffering several casualties. When Sergeant RODRIGUEZ received the order to move his platoon to assist the stalled unit, he ran forward and led his troops in a furious assault, causing the enemy to retreat hastily, thereby relieving the besieged lead platoon. Continuing his charge, Sergeant Rodriguez pursued the fleeing enemy and covered by friendly machine gun fire, he personally searched the area to rout any enemy troops which might have been left behind. The aggressive leadership and personal gallantry exhibited by Sergeant Rodriguez reflect the highest credit upon himself and the military service. Entered the military service from Puerto Rico.[5]

Later years[edit]

Pedro Rodríguez c. 1979

Sgt. Rodríguez retired from the Army with the rank of Master Sergeant and went to work as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Puerto Rico. In 1979, Rodríguez went to live at the Soldier's and Airmen's Retirement Home in Washington, D.C. He suffered a stroke and lost his left leg in 1997.[6]

Master Sergeant Pedro Rodríguez died on October 19, 1999, at the age of 88, from a heart attack. He was buried with full military honors at the Arlington National Cemetery. He was married to Asuncion Toro with whom he had five children.[6]


Military awards and decorations[edit]

Among Rodríguez's decorations were the following:

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver Star with oak leaf cluster Purple Heart
Presidential Unit Citation Meritorious Unit Commendation European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal Korean Service Medal United Nations Service Medal Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation

Badges:

Foreign decoration

The Bravery Gold Medal of Greece was given by the Government of Greece to the 65th Infantry Regiment and to the members of the regiment who fought in the Korean War.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Puertorriquenos Who Served With Guts, Glory, and Honor. Fighting to Defend a Nation Not Completely Their Own"; by : Greg Boudonck; ISBN 1497421837; ISBN 978-1497421837

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]