OXNARD, CA, USA U.S. Army SPC, TROOP A, 5TH SQUADRON, 7TH CAVALRY, FORT STEWART, GA SAQLAWIYAH, IRAQ 07/26/2007
Jaime Rodriguez Jr. was born on October 14, 1987, in the City of Santa Barbara, the second of three children to Jaime Rodriguez and Dulce Soto. Jaime, with his older sister Elizabeth and younger brother, went to school in Santa Barbara until his parents divorced in 2000 and his mother moved to Carpinteria. Rodriguez attended Carpinteria High School starting in 2001, and even after Soto moved to Oxnard, he remained in school there. His mother would drop off Jaime and Alex near the school on her way to work in Goleta. In high school, he ran track and cross-country usually as the sixth or seventh man on the cross-country team, and in the 400- and 800-meter races. He wasn’t the star of either team, though in his senior year he did finish sixth in the 400-meter race at the S.B. County Track Championships. But it’s not his athletic prowess his coaches remember; rather, it was his leadership and determination.
John Larralde, now an assistant cross-county coach at Westmont College, worked at Carpinteria High when Rodriguez was a student. He called Rodriguez a stabilizer on the team; “Guys listened to him,” he said. And he was always doing what he was supposed to be doing, according to Ben Hollack, an assistant track coach who also taught Rodriguez science his sophomore year of school. The kind of kid who didn’t belong to any one clique, Rodriguez could finesse all his peers with grace, according to Art Monarres, a Carpinteria High physical education teacher who taught Rodriguez for three years and had him as a teacher’s aid for a fourth. “I can still remember him as a freshman in PE class; this small, little kid. But he always had a great heart,” Monarres said.
Rodriguez did okay in school, but was never a big fan of it. “He didn’t like to do homework,” Soto recalled. “That was his biggest problem. He’d carry his backpack with only a notebook and pen in it.” His teachers and friends remember people gravitating toward his good nature and humor. “Jaime was the best friend anyone could want or have,” Michael Sandoval, Rodriguez’s friend from Carpinteria High, wrote in an email. “He was just the coolest to be around. He always made me laugh.”
From Dulce Soto – Jaime’s mother:
Jaime is a very active young man, he likes to listen to his favorite music band, atmosphere, watch movies, and yes play video games with his younger brother Alex. Jimmy, that’s how we call him, Jimmy is a good athlete he joined the track and field team as well as the cross country team at high school, he has a great sense of humor, laid back, doesn’t worry much. We used to call him by his nick name at home, “pollito” – that’s little chicken in spanish, he likes the color yellow because of that.
Whenever he called, he used to tell me “don’t worry mom, i’m fine, we are at a safe place away from danger, dont worry, you worry too much, he kept things from me, what was he doing, where he was going, what his mission was for that time, things that will get me worried.
My son Jaime was killed by an IED, July 26 2007, I was not allowed to see him, give him a kiss and a hug. All I remember is a wooden box wrapped in an American Flag. I miss my boy, I miss when he used to tell me: mom you are fat and ugly, and my response always was, I love you too baby, I pray to God every day to give the opportunity to see my child again. Thank you for all you are doing