Team Pete pays tribute to a fallen hero

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Last week, Team Peterson had the distinct honor of paying a last tribute to one of our fallen brothers-in-arms and fellow Airmen, Maj. Rodolfo I. Rodriguez. Major Rodriguez was the commander of the Contingency Training Flight of the 86th Construction and Training Squadron out of Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and is survived by his wife Caryn, his mother Minerva, and brothers Edgar and Fernie, not to mention his extended Air Force and Department of Defense family. Maj. Rodriguez entered the Air Force in 1998 upon graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy and married Caryn in 2000. He served in a variety of engineering jobs and had deployed three times in support of both Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

Major Rodriguez was a true American hero throughout his life and career and made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom and democracy. Every one of us owes him our eternal gratitude and appreciation. Let us never forget that every day in our vast world, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are putting their lives in jeopardy to defend others' freedom and way of life. Heroes, like Major Rodriguez, will never be forgotten.

On a less somber note, on Oct. 2, Team Pete held its annual Hispanic Heritage Luncheon, celebrating Hispanic heritage and culture and honoring the achievements and contributions of Hispanic-Americans. This event provided us a wonderful opportunity to honor one of the many diverse cultures that makes the United States strong, prosperous, and a model of democracy for the world, and provides a valuable learning environment to continue to develop our warrior Airmen.

Our two distinguished speakers at the luncheon were Dr. Luis Velez, vice president of education for Colorado Technical University and former chief of police for the Colorado Springs Police Department, and Manuel Navarro, chief of the Colorado Springs Fire Department. This was Chief Navarro's final public event of his 42 year career of dutiful and exceptional community service.

I want to thank the members of Team Pete who helped to make this event a roaring success. Maj. Marc Herrera, Capt. Emmanuel Matos, Master Sgt. Arthur Figeroa, Tech. Sgt. Sheila Figeroa, Mr. Steve Daniels, and Mr. Luciano Pena made significant and selfless contributions to this great event.

Finally, on Oct. 10, we will hold our annual Wingman Day. The Wingman concept is based upon Airmen helping Airmen; it is engrained in our culture. In fact, it is in our creed: "I am an American Airman: Wingman, Leader, Warrior..." Our most valuable resource in the Air Force is our people, and being a great Wingman means taking care of yourself as well as looking out for those around you. I encourage each and every one of you, civilian and military, to take full advantage of the events and lessons that will be presented on Friday.
People are our Air Force's greatest resource and whenever we lose even one, the effect is felt at all levels. Please keep Major Rodriguez's family in your thoughts and prayers and take care of each other. We are all part of the Air Force family.