His next assignment was at the University of Missouri at Columbia, where he served as a senior ROTC instructor. While there, he earned a bachelor’s degree in business.
Rodriguez was then invited to attend the U.S. Sergeant Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, where he earned the rank of command sergeant major in 1981. He fulfilled two more assignments before retiring from the Army in 1983.
“I miss it, I really do,” he said. “As a sergeant major, I had a lot of pull. When I first retired, I was just a nobody walking the streets. I had been in charge my whole military career.” Rodriguez is in charge again, as vice president of Command Guard Services Co. in Hawthorne. And he is more likely to talk about his son, a student at the University of California at Berkeley, than his own heroism.
“It’s not that I’m a hero, it’s just that I survived and I was in charge. There were a lot of heroes all doing the same things I did,” he said. “It’s like a dream now. It seems like a movie I saw. It’s so far away now that it seems like it wasn’t reality. But let me tell you, it was.”
Rodriguez says he’s adjusted to civilian life. He wouldn’t go back into the military, he said because Special Forces would keep him traveling all the time, away from his Carson home and away from his family. Besides traveling the world, Rodriguez learned several languages during his two decades with the U.S. Army. He speaks Spanish, Russian, German and Vietnamese. He’s seen things never captured in a war movie and had opportunities to retire in exotic, faraway places.