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“I was very angry, the fact that they had all of our men pinned down. And I felt something had to be done. I didn't even think about it, just did it.” (Video interview, 12:44)

   Joseph C. Rodriguez
Collection image
Joseph Rodriguez [detail from video interview]
War: Korean War, 1950-1953
Branch: Army
Unit: Company F, 2nd Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division; Company H, 2nd Battalion, 196th Regimental Combat Team; Corps of Engineers
Service Location: Camp Carson, Colorado; Munye-ri, Korea
Rank: Colonel
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Colonel Joseph C. Rodriguez was drafted into the Army shortly before his 22nd birthday in October 1950. After completing training as an infantryman, Rodriguez volunteered to go to Korea in early 1951, where he served with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. On May 21st, 1951 Rodriguez singlehandedly charged and eliminated a North Korean hilltop defensive position that had defied three previous assaults. For his courage and skill that day, Rodriguez was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor. Rodriguez went on to serve in the Army with distinction for 30 years. After retiring, he was frequently asked to speak to civic groups and schoolchildren, to whom he emphasized the importance of love for one another, and imparted messages of self-worth and patriotism.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (4 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (39 min.)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (4 items)
Actions on hilltop near Munye-ri, Korea on 21 May 1951 that led to Rodriguez being awarded the Medal of Honor. (10:11) Meaning of the Medal of Honor to Rodriguez, being presented the Medal by President Harry Truman, and the sense of responsibility he feels as a recipient. (08:47) Message of love and respect that Rodriguez emphasizes when he speaks to children; Rodriguez’s faith in America’s youth. (02:24)
Message of patriotism and self-worth that Rodriguez tries to pass on to children he speaks to. (03:43)  

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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