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 several years old when his father was killed in Afghanistan, just lately used the day with army doing work pet dog trainers at the 341st Education Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.    

Airman 1st Course Zachary Rodriguez explained it was usually his dream to practical experience the function his father did to serve the country. His father, Army Sgt. 1st Course Gregory Rodriguez, was a particular operations dog handler assigned to the K-9 unit of the 527th Army Law enforcement Corporation, 709th Military Law enforcement Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, in Ansbach, Germany. He was killed in Ana Kalay, Afghanistan, on Sept. 2, 2008, even though serving in Procedure Enduring Flexibility.  

Rodriguez reported he knew he desired to join the military at 5 several years old since of his father. “Viewing him do his occupation was so cool,” he stated. “I’ve often desired to be like my father and at the similar time be my personal self. In simple fact, I travel the Jeep he purchased in Germany. I received it for my 18th birthday.”

Rodriguez joined the Air Force in November 2021. Now, he is an F-35 mechanical apprentice crew chief for the 61st Aircraft Routine maintenance Unit at Luke Air Power Base, Arizona. 

On Dec. 21, staff from the 341st Education Squadron and the 701st Military Police Battalion, an Military detachment, hosted the Gold Star family. Gold Star family members are those people who missing a cherished just one in army company supporting combat operations or from terrorist things to do.  

The 341st Training Squadron, which falls below the 37th Teaching Group, is accountable for education and acquiring K-9 pros and military operating pet dogs to boost the Protection Department’s world warfighting capability. 

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

“A lot of periods I am overcome with emotion, so it truly is tough to say a large amount of phrases,” said Rodriguez’s mom, Laura Rodriguez, at the finish of the work out. “I’m great at lecturing my young ones I am fantastic at lecturing my sufferers, but as a Gold Star partner, I don’t generally have the phrases to say. All of this is seriously significant to our family members.”   

Rodriguez put in the relaxation of the day carrying out armed forces working pet dog education, these as patrol, detection and obedience get the job done. 

He experienced remaining the “bait” for a military performing doggy by doing chunk do the job, conducted a creating lookup, and trained a dog to scout in an open up field—all section of patrol perform.  

The check out ended with a ceremony at the Military services Functioning Pet dog Teams National Monument. It was attended by Rodriguez, his mom, sisters Malorie and Charlie, and staff from the 341 Coaching Squadron and 701st Armed service Police Battalion personnel.


“I had a great time. I barely slept at all final night,” Rodriguez explained. “I was so enthusiastic for this, but at the same time anxious. I do like to see and adhere to my dad’s footsteps and see what he did … I assume this was a seriously cool encounter.”

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