Rep. Soto Honors Vietnam Veteran Recognized for Saving 30 Soldiers
Kissimmee, FL- It was a proud moment on a day more than 50 years in the making.
With his family on hand, Manuel Rodriguez patiently waited as U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., presented him with the Vietnam Gallantry Cross with bronze palm for valor.
Rodriguez, a combat-wounded Army "radio man" had been recognized with a Purple Heart and other commendations, but he'd never been recognized for his heroism.
In late 1967, two months before the Tet offensive, Rodriguez was in the dangerous region of Dak To.
It was there that he saved 30 soldiers under intense enemy gunfire.
The story made headlines, but Army records, that should have resulted in medals, never made it back home.
Soto's office saw a WESH 2 News report, confirmed Rodriguez's story, and recognized his courageous actions.
"It takes a dedication of heroes like Sgt. Rodriguez to defend our freedoms and we can never take that for granted," Soto said. "War is challenging, both to the individual war fighter and the family, and so, this helps not only to recognize the sacrifices but to begin the healing processes once we're in peace time again."
Rodriguez doesn't like hearing the word "hero."
"I didn't consider it in those days, to be a hero," he said. "I just wanted to do my job and I wanted to help my friends that were there too."
Click here to view the full video of the ceremony.