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Refugio soldier meets U.S. Secretary of Defense
by Kenda Nelson
Jul 05, 2012 | 913 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Leon Panetta, U.S. Secretary of Defense, greets Jeffrey Rodriguez of Refugio in Afghanistan. Panetta paid a surprise visit to the soldiers and presented Rodriguez with the secretary’s coin of excellence.
Leon Panetta, U.S. Secretary of Defense, greets Jeffrey Rodriguez of Refugio in Afghanistan. Panetta paid a surprise visit to the soldiers and presented Rodriguez with the secretary’s coin of excellence.
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AFGHANISTAN — This Independence Day, as Refugio County citizens celebrated the Fourth of July, Sergeant First Class Jeffery Rodriguez goes about his duty in Afghanistan.

Currently assigned to Operations Company, V Corps, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany, Rodriguez and his company were deployed to Afghanistan as an advisory team to the Afghan National Army.

“My deployment has been a very challenging and rewarding experience, working with foreign soldiers from around the world to help build up and train the Afghan National Army to stand on its own,” Rodriguez said.

A few weeks ago, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta paid a surprise visit to the soldiers in Rodriguez’s company in Afghanistan.

“I was one of 150 service members at the Forward Operation Base to receive Mr. Panetta’s coin of excellence,” Rodriguez said.

A 19-year career soldier, Rodriguez attended Refugio High School. Married with three children, the sergeant doesn’t know how long he will be deployed to Afghanistan but believes it will be 12 months.

His last duty station was in Fort Bragg, N.C. with the 82nd Airborne Division.

His parents, Manuel and Sophie Rodriguez of Refugio are understandably proud of their son. Their thoughts turned to Jeff in Afghanistan as Independence Day celebrations prevailed across the country this week.

His brother, Gonzalo Rodriguez, is equally proud of his sibling.

“My brother is a passionate Refugio Bobcat fan in all sports,” Gonzalo said.

Jeffery’s E-mails to his brother Gonzalo whom he calls “Chalo,” end with a quote: “I serve with the memory and pride of those who have gone before me for they loved to fight, fought to win and would rather die than quit.”

From Lexington to Kabul, veterans like Rodriguez offer the last full measure of devotion to the service of this country.
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