Lance Cpl. Matthew R. Rodriguez was only 19 years old when he was killed in combat in Helmand, Afghanistan. The young soldier had just recently gotten engaged and was looking forward to coming home to start a new life. He graduated from New Bedford Vocational Technical High School in Massachusetts in 2012.
The Boston Herald reported:
Ryan Boswell, now a student at Franklin Pierce College, was a star outfielder on the New Bedford Voc-Tech baseball team. Matt Rodriguez played no varsity sports and yet they were best friends.
“It was our girlfriends who brought us together,” Boswell recalled, “All Matt wanted to do, all he’d talk about, was being able to make a difference as a Marine. To serve his country, but more than that, Matt wanted to help the people he met over there. He’d talk about it all time.
“He was tough enough to become a Marine and yet, in all honesty, he was the kindest, most genuine person I think I’ll ever know. I can’t believe I’m talking about Matt like this … like he’s gone.
“I supported his decision to become a Marine,” Ryan said, “and admired him for it. But I can’t believe he’s gone.”
Ryan’s dad, Pete, standing in the living room of his New Bedford home, could barely hold back his tears or his anger. “Matt was such a beautiful kid,” this firefighter said, “and we lose him at 19? And for what? This is supposed to be over.”