John A. Rodriguez
Sergeant Major, United States Marine Corps
of Noel Garland: December 2006
Writte By Carl Matthews
It was almost 1300 hours when we joined family and friends for the funeral of Sergeant Major John A Rodriguez with whom I had served in the Pacific during World War II. John lived through the invasions of The Marshall Islands, Saipan-Tinian and Iwo Jima. John served the Marines for thirty years in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, and his many medals included The Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He had also served as escort to presidents Truman and Kennedy and had introduced President Clinton on Memorial Day 1995 at that very cemetery.
John was a Marines Marine, and was married to one, his beautiful Betty, for more than sixty one years. They were parents of three lovely daughters, Judy, Jo Boe, and Jane.
We joined the procession into the cemetery where the casket was removed from the hearse to a waiting caisson by six young Marines clad in wrinkle free “Dress Blue” uniforms.
The caisson was pulled by four large matched dabble gray horses clad in beautiful leather harness and ridden by Army personnel in dress uniforms. The procession continued to the burial site located on a hillside with a view of the Capitol City. When the family was seated, the six young Marines removed the casket from the caisson. The sounds of soft cadence could be heard as the Marines, in step, brought the flag covered casket to the grave site and lowered it gently and reverently, then stood at attention facing the family.
A priest stood before the family and read the funeral liturgy.
A young Marine some distance away began playing Taps. Each note seem to hold, giving time for memories and for saying our “Good Byes.” Nearby, seven young Marines raised rifles and fired three volleys, TWENTY ONE SHOTS that honored one of their own.
When the shots faded, six young Marines faced the flag draped casket and, with measured precision, began to fold the flag into the traditional triangle. One, with military presence, moved toward Betty, knelt and presented the flag to her as others watched in silence.
Two older Marines had stood to the side throughout the service. The taller of the two, his left sleeve almost covered with hashmarks and the strips of a Marine Sergeant Major, the left breast of his blouse overflowing with medals saluted the casket, made his way to Betty, knelt on the ground, clasped her hand.
He was a black man, John was Mexican-American, I was angelo, but we were related by a term, SEMPER FIDELUS…..Latin meaning ”Always Faithful." To God, To Country, To Family, To the Corps
And somewhere,a Heavenly Military Band must have been playing, ”From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli, We fight our country battles, in the air,on land and sea. First to fight for right and freedom, And to keep our honor clean We are proud to claim the title..of United States Marines.”
Nearby Sergeant Major John A Rodriguez, stands at attention saluting us all.
RODRIGUEZ, JOHN A