Benito B. Rodriguez (1968/04/06)
After three months in Vietnam, Rodriguez considered himself an "old timer."
Benito Bobo Rodriguez was born on April 1, 1948, in Blythe, California, to Bocanegra and Betty Rodriguez. At an early age he moved with his family to Freedom, California, where he and his brothers Charles, Joe and Sandy attended Freedom Elementary School. Young Rodriguez also became involved in the community through the Valley Catholic Church and later served as an altar boy at Sunday mass. During his pre-teen years, he was a pitcher on the church-sponsored Padres little league baseball team. In the fall of 1963 Benito enrolled in Watsonville High School and remained there until January 1966 when he dropped out during his junior year.
Following his eighteenth birthday in April, 1966, Benito Rodriguez enlisted in the US Army. He completed basic training at Fort Ord, California, advanced infantry training at Fort Gordon, Georgia, and sniper school and paratrooper training at Fort Benning, Georgia. As a 101st Airborne, "Screaming Eagle," sniper he was posted to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, before leaving for Vietnam in January 1968.
When Rodriguez arrived in Vietnam, he joined Company C, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, serving in the central highlands. The 501st Infantry Regiment's primary mission was to intercept and destroy supplies arriving through the Ho Chi Minh trail.
On April 6, 1968, five days after his twentieth birthday, Sergeant Benito Bobo Rodriguez was on a search and destroy mission in Thua Thien Province when an enemy anti-tank round exploded near him taking his life. His body was returned to Watsonville and buried in Pajaro Valley Memorial Park. Benito was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, in addition to service awards.
(VVMW; WHSM; WRP April 8, 1968 1:6; April 20, 1968 2:1; http://www.lzsally.com/sally2/archives/history_of_the_101st_ airborne_di.htm, [16 September 2008] 101st Airborne, History)