June 24, 2024

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Gold Star Son Steps Into Father’s Shoes > U.S. Department of Defense > Story

Gold Star Son Steps Into Father’s Shoes > U.S. Department of Defense > Story

A Gold Star son, who was 7 years aged when his father was killed in Afghanistan, recently spent the working day with military doing the job pet dog trainers at the 341st Education Squadron at Joint Foundation San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.    

Airman 1st Class Zachary Rodriguez claimed it was normally his dream to encounter the operate his father did to serve the country. His father, Army Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Rodriguez, was a particular functions doggy handler assigned to the K-9 unit of the 527th Military Police Business, 709th Navy Police Battalion, 18th Armed service Law enforcement Brigade, in Ansbach, Germany. He was killed in Ana Kalay, Afghanistan, on Sept. 2, 2008, although serving in Operation Enduring Independence.  

Rodriguez mentioned he knew he wanted to be part of the armed service at 5 decades previous because of his father. “Viewing him do his career was so amazing,” he stated. “I’ve usually needed to be like my dad and at the very same time be my personal self. In point, I push the Jeep he purchased in Germany. I got it for my 18th birthday.”

Rodriguez joined the Air Drive in November 2021. Now, he is an F-35 mechanical apprentice crew chief for the 61st Plane Servicing Unit at Luke Air Drive Base, Arizona. 

On Dec. 21, personnel from the 341st Training Squadron and the 701st Army Law enforcement Battalion, an Military detachment, hosted the Gold Star spouse and children. Gold Star family members are all those who lost a liked 1 in military services services supporting combat operations or from terrorist functions.  

The 341st Schooling Squadron, which falls underneath the 37th Schooling Group, is liable for coaching and establishing K-9 specialists and navy performing puppies to greatly enhance the Protection Department’s world warfighting capacity. 

They started off the early morning by undertaking a “hero exercise of the day” to honor Rodriguez’s father. 

“A good deal of occasions I am overcome with emotion, so it truly is hard to say a lot of phrases,” reported Rodriguez’s mom, Laura Rodriguez, at the finish of the exercise routine. “I’m superior at lecturing my kids I’m superior at lecturing my individuals, but as a Gold Star spouse, I do not constantly have the phrases to say. All of this is truly significant to our family members.”   

Rodriguez used the relaxation of the day accomplishing armed service doing the job canine teaching, this sort of as patrol, detection and obedience operate. 

He knowledgeable getting the “bait” for a armed service doing the job canine by doing chunk perform, performed a setting up research, and trained a doggy to scout in an open field—all aspect of patrol function.  

The check out ended with a ceremony at the Armed service Working Dog Groups Nationwide Monument. It was attended by Rodriguez, his mom, sisters Malorie and Charlie, and personnel from the 341 Teaching Squadron and 701st Military Police Battalion personnel.


“I had a wonderful time. I scarcely slept at all last evening,” Rodriguez stated. “I was so thrilled for this, but at the exact same time anxious. I do like to see and follow my dad’s footsteps and see what he did … I feel this was a actually great experience.”

(C Arce is assigned to the Air Force’s 37th Coaching Wing General public Affairs.)