On Veterans Day, Paterson unveils memorial monument to Afghanistan vet

PATERSON (WABC) -- On this Veterans Day, there was grief and sorrow on Paterson's Hill of Heroes.

Tears flowed from the family of 22-year-old Kevin Rodriguez as city leaders unveiled a memorial monument to the Army specialist and native son who made the ultimate sacrifice just last month.

"That means a lot to me, to my family," mom Joan Rodriguez said. "He really deserved it."

"A true soldier who in just two years had earned more than a half-dozen medals and commendations, having served in Afghanistan," Sen. Bob Menendez said.

Rodriguez was an infantryman with Company A, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, known as "Rakkasans." He enlisted two years ago and completed a nine-month deployment in June.

But it wasn't on the battlefields of Afghanistan where Rodriguez died. He was shot and killed during a training exercise at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.

"This shouldn't have happened," fiancee Jane Gonzalo said. "We didn't protect him. We didn't protect him. In Afghanistan he fought, he protected the us. And then here, that happens? It's not fair."

Family members say the Army has yet to reveal the specific details of his death.

"To the Rodriguez family, I made a commitment to you, and I will keep that commitment in terms of your beloved son," Rep. Bill Pascrell said. "And we will know exactly what happened and the circumstances."
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