Ramon Elroy Rodriguez
When Ramon Rodriguez of Beeville joined the United States Marine Corps, he had no way of knowing that he would soon be in the middle of one of the Vietnam War’s most well-known battles. And he certainly didn’t know that his job would make him one of the enemy’s most prized targets.
As a radio-telegraph operator, Rodriguez was responsible for the communications between his patrol’s command and other military units. It was up to him to send in coordinates for artillery or air support, and to keep other Marine units apprised of his group’s situation. The heavy, shiny radio, with its long antenna, was a coveted and easily spotted target for the enemy. Take down the radio, and you take down the communications. Find the radioman, and the ranking officer will be nearby.
It was Rodriguez’ fate to do this dangerous work in what might be described as the wrong place at the wrong time: at the Siege of Khe Sahn, where he spent several months during his service with the 2nd Battalion, 26th Marines Infantry Regiment. During the 77-day battle, Rodriguez and his fellow Marines stationed in this strategically important border area were under continuous attack by the North Vietnamese Army.
Rodriguez says he “made his peace” on many occasions, sure that he would not survive to come home. The U.S. Marines suffered heavy losses; hundreds were killed and hundreds more wounded. Rodriguez is quick to tell anyone that those men – the ones who never had the chance to marry, have children, or live their lives – they are the heroes.
Rodriguez is now a Bee County Commissioner, following a career as an educator and school principal in his hometown, and an active advocate for local veterans.