RODRIGUEZ, JOSEPH CHARLES (1928 ~ 2005). The following is a biography for Medal of Honor Recipient Joseph Charles Rodriguez. The biography was provided by the Rodriguez family.
"Joseph C. Rodriguez was born and raised in San Bernardino, California. He graduated from San Bernardino Valley College and soon afterwards was drafted into the U.S. Army in the fall of 1950. By the middle of May, 1951, he was a combat infantryman in the Korean War. It was then that he was involved in a decisive battle against the enemy in which he was recommended to receive the nation’s highest military honor. One week after this battle, he was wounded in combat and evacuated to a hospital in Japan for three months. Upon recuperating from his wounds, he requested and was permitted to return to his unit in Korea. He served in Korea until late November, 1951, when he was re-assigned back to the United States for further duties. In 1952, President Harry S. Truman formally presented the Congressional Medal of Honor to Joseph Rodriguez.
Joseph Rodriguez served in the U.S. Army Infantry in every enlisted rank below the grade of master sergeant. In June, 1952, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. Subsequently, he was assigned to various engineer organizations in the United States and the Far East, to include two tours in Korea and one in Vietnam. He was also stationed in several countries in Latin America, including Bolivia, Puerto Rico, Argentina, and twice in the Panama Canal Zone. He traveled extensively throughout much of Latin America, serving in challenging military multi-national and diplomatic assignments. He served more than 12 years overseas.
His last military assignment prior to retiring at Fort Bliss, Texas, was served as the Facilities Engineer of the largest military installation in the country. He retired as a Colonel with 30 years experience in the Army. During his military career, he attended several military schools and regularly took university courses, pursuing professional development at every opportunity.
Joseph Rodriguez was also a highly decorated veteran of the U.S. Army. His decorations include: The Congressional Medal of Honor, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Star, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart; Good Conduct Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal with gold star from Korea, as well as various other service medals from Korea, Vietnam and the United States. Additionally, he was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and proudly wore Parachutists 'Airborne' wings.
After retiring from the Army, Colonel Rodriguez accepted civilian employment at the University of Texas, El Paso, as Director of the Physical Plant. He was responsible for construction management and maintenance of all facilities on campus, plus supervision over a large team of facility technicians and support personnel. After ten years with the University, he retired a second time.
Although twice retired, he remained very active as a community volunteer, hole-in-one golfer, and public speaker from his home in El Paso, Texas. He was regularly invited to speak to young people in schools, to soldiers on military installations, and at ceremonies honoring veterans throughout the country.
Colonel Rodriguez married Rose Aranda of Colton, California on November 22, 1952. They raised three children, now grown. He and Rose had eleven grandchildren.
Colonel Joseph C. Rodriguez died suddenly due to health complications on November 1, 2005, at the age of 76. His memory is honored in his hometown of San Bernardino, California, where in September 2008 a combined elementary and middle public school was named after him: the Colonel Joseph C. Rodriguez Preparatory Academy. An inscription on a paver contributed by his family at the McAllen, Texas, Veterans War Memorial summarized the affection for and inspiration of Colonel Rodriguez:
A patriotic and loved American Soldier, husband, and father:
'Stay in school; study; graduate: SIGUE ADELANTE!'
Although he is greatly missed by his family, friends and all who knew him, Colonel Rodriguez’ legacy as an honorable man, a Korean War veteran and a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor will long survive him to inspire future generations."
Further information is available through the Texas State Cemetery research department.