Two months ago, Rodriguez’s truck was hit by a roadside bomb, the seventh time he had fallen victim to such a weapon riddling the streets, Tiffanie Rodriguez said.
“The doctor wanted him to come home right away,” she said. “But he didn’t want to leave yet.”
Her husband, Tiffanie Rodriguez said, wanted to complete one more mission.
“He was just too young for this,” she said. “He was too young to go, that’s another soldier dead.”
The explosion also killed another soldier, Sgt. Jose J. Reyes, 24, of San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico.
Daniel Rodriguez was born in the Bronx in December 1983, his wife said. He grew up bouncing between his mother’s house in New York and his uncle’s house in the Crofton area, she said.
“He was a great guy,” said Rich Buckey, Tiffanie Rodriguez’s brother and a childhood friend of Daniel Rodriguez.
Tiffanie Rodriguez, who now lives at Fort Drum in New York, said she met her future husband in Maryland. When he was a senior in high school, she said, she became pregnant. Soon after, the two were married.
The couple eventually had three children: Celeste, 9, Serenity, 8, and Daniel Jr., 6.
Rodriguez was always good with his hands and built video game systems and phones from parts that he bought online, his family said. They said he dreamed of starting a business either remodeling houses or rebuilding cars.
Rodriguez was also a talented artist, his wife said. She said he once drew a sketch of her while she was sleeping, a portrait that she still has.
Over time, Tiffanie Rodriguez said, war had taken a toll on her husband.
A rocket struck near Rodriguez during his second tour in Iraq, and he was hit by chunks of concrete and knocked out, she said.
“When that happened, he kind of lost a little bit of that sense of creativity as drawing goes,” Tiffanie Rodriguez said.
Other explosions, which resulted in a bruising of his left temporal lobe, changed her husband’s personality, she said. On some days, she added, Rodriguez would become very “hyper” and “out there.”
“Slowly but surely, he was losing who he was because of all that happened during these deployments,” Tiffanie Rodriguez said.
Buckey said his brother-in-law “died for his country, and number one, he died for his family.”