East Texas Heroes: Joseph Rodriguez - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

East Texas Heroes: Joseph Rodriguez

Posted: Updated:

He almost shared a birthday with the nation.  Joseph Rodriguez was born on the 3rd of July and his patriotism is legendary in his family.  The Marine served in World War II and played a pivotal role in ground assaults that helped the U.S. secure victory in Japan. 

Marine Joseph Rodriguez was on a mission in Japan in 1945 when he came upon a grizzly scene.  "I was going up a hill and I was really shocked at what I saw, dead bodies all over the place," he said.

He saw the remnants of a battle between Japanese soldiers and U.S. Marines only the battle wasn't quite over.

"I looked down and I saw dust come up and dust come up again. There was someone shooting at me," Rodriguez told us.

He narrowly avoided being shot before getting away. That was the first of many dangerous missions as a Marine.  But Rodriguez says the branch almost didn't take him when he went to sign up as a young man in Illinois in 1944.  He had a lot of heart but not a lot of weight. He was only 120 pounds.  The Marines warned him he better give it all he had.

Rodriguez said they told him, "if you don't make it we're going to send you right back to your mama. I said ok."

He went through boot camp at a Marine base in San Diego and took specialized training at the ally controlled island of Guadalcanal in the South Pacific.  He trained to be in the infantry firing anti-aircraft weapons and learning to serve on a survey crew.  Their job was to scout out locations for long range weapons.  And that's what he did when he got to Japan on April 1, 1945.

He was part of Operation Iceberg as allied forces tried to take Okinawa.  He remembers the moment he arrived by boat.  He said, "keep your head down and just run. We were splashing through water because the boats, they don't land on shore."

They were being fired at the whole way. But he survived. During his time in Okinawa the Japanese fought desperately to gain back the ground they lost.  The battle of Okinawa lasted nearly 3 months.  After it ended Rodriguez and other Marines were stationed in Tsingtao, China where they accepted the surrender of Japanese soldiers.

In 1946 he was headed back home to Illinois where his family was waiting to welcome him. His mother put out a big spread of home cooked food, cooking he hadn't tasted in years. "She had food and she had made fresh tortillas, and rice and beans, tamales and what not," he said.

He was finally home but forever a Marine.  He came to Texas to raise his family. His daughter Joyce Cammack says her dad taught her to love this country and to understand what it took to protect it.  Cammack said, "I've always been proud of Dad. He kind of epitomizes the Semper Fi valor and honor and that's my dad."

"If I had to die I'd die for my country any day," Rodriguez told us.

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Tyler Police Request Assistance Locating A Mentally Challenged Missing Juvenile

    Tyler Police Request Assistance Locating A Mentally Challenged Missing Juvenile

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:55 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:55:31 GMT
    TYLER (KYTX)- Tyler Police are currently asking for assistance in trying to locate a mentally challenged 15 year black female.More >>
    TYLER (KYTX)- Tyler Police are currently asking for assistance in trying to locate a mentally challenged 15 year black female.More >>
  • Tyler Police searching for early morning robber

    Tyler Police searching for early morning robber

    Tyler Police searching for early morning robber

    Monday, April 21 2014 5:53 PM EDT2014-04-21 21:53:35 GMT
    Tyler Police need your help finding an early morning robbery suspect. A woman says a robber tackled her to the ground and stole her purse. More >>
    Tyler Police need your help finding an early morning robbery suspect. A woman says a robber tackled her to the ground and stole her purse. More >>
  • Cherokee County woman found dead in driveway, husband charged with murder

    Cherokee County woman found dead in driveway, husband charged with murder

    Monday, April 21 2014 5:31 PM EDT2014-04-21 21:31:33 GMT
    Cedric Dewayne ThompsonCedric Dewayne Thompson
    CHEROKEE CO. (KYTX) - On Sunday April 20, 2014 at approximately 9:35am Kayla Nicole Thompson (27 years of age) was found deceased in the driveway of her residence, located in the 1500 block of County Road 3201 just West of Lake Jacksonville.More >>
    CHEROKEE CO. (KYTX) - On Sunday April 20, 2014 at approximately 9:35am Kayla Nicole Thompson (27 years of age) was found deceased in the driveway of her residence, located in the 1500 block of County Road 3201 just West of Lake Jacksonville.More >>
Powered by WorldNow

CBS19, MYTX & KCEB
2211 ESE Loop 323
Tyler, TX 75701
Phone (903) 581-2211
Fax (903) 581-5769

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2004 - 2014, WorldNow and KYTX, Owned and Operated by London Broadcasting Company.
All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.