A Stryker soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord on his second deployment to a hostile corner of southern Afghanistan was shot to death Tuesday, the Defense Department announced Friday night.
Sgt. Jose Rodriguez, 22, of Gustine, Calif., served with the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment. That roughly 700-man unit has lost three other soldiers since it hit the ground in Kandahar province two months ago.
Rodriguez spent nearly his entire Army career at Lewis-McChord. He joined the Army in 2008 and was assigned to the base in January 2009. He deployed to Afghanistan in July of that year under the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
That tour was a challenging one. It was the first time the Army sent its eight-wheeled Stryker vehicles to Afghanistan, and the brigade lost 37 soldiers in combat.
It prompted the Army to redesign the Stryker, giving the vehicle more armor and a different hull shape to deflect the impact of buried bombs. Since then, fewer soldiers have died inside Stryker vehicles.
Rodriguez’s previous tour took place on near the same ground where he was killed this week. He died in Maiwand district, a rural and volatile piece of Kandahar province where NATO forces are trying to build confidence in the Afghan government before U.S. combat troops withdraw from the country in 2014.
Soldiers who have served there describe it as a hub for the cultivation of heroin poppies.
It also was the scene of the so-called “kill team” homicides, which were carried out by 5th Brigade soldiers during the 2009-10 deployment. Four soldiers were convicted of killing three Afghan civilians in combat-like incidents they staged in Maiwand.
Rodriguez’s battalion is part of what is called the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. It is essentially the same brigade with which he fought three years ago. The Army renamed it as the 2nd Brigade in 2010.
The 2nd Brigade sent 4,000 soldiers to Afghanistan this spring. Rodriguez was among just 642 veterans of the 2009-10 tour to join the current deployment. His battalion fought with distinction in 2009-10, and received a presidential commendation for its service alongside Marine units.
He has received the Army Achievement Medal and the Army Good Conduct Medal. Rodriguez is the 15th soldier from Lewis-McChord to die in Afghanistan this email@example.com 253-597-8646