Jose Rodela

Corpus Christi native Jose Rodela joined army in 1955, at age 17, along with friends, and eventually became a member of Special Forces, one of the famous Green Beret. The first aid and survival skills he learned in his Green Beret training helped him get himself and others through the harrowing experience of Sept. 1, 1969.

Rodela served as military advisor in Vietnam, recruiting and training Cambodian and Vietnamese troops and teaching them to organize their own units.

In Phuoc Long Province, South Vietnam, Rodela was serving as the company commander of a mobile strike force with an Airborne Special Forces Group. His company was made up entirely of Cambodian soldiers.

Rodela, who spoke some Vietnamese and Cambodian, also had a Cambodian interpreter. During free time, he helped the interpreter improve his English.

Rodela’s company was often on extended missions, far from help and resources. He did missions like these for 20 months, with rations airdropped from C-130 cargo planes. Because of their survival training, they were able to forage for edible vegetation and animals to supplement their rations.

On September 1, 1969, Rodela and his unit were in search of enemy combatants. Unfortunately, what they found was a unit of well-trained, well-armed enemy fighters who opened fire with an intense barrage of fire from mortar, rocket and machine guns.

In the ensuing 18-hour battle, 33 of his company were wounded and 11 killed. Rodela, the only one of his unit to be up and moving about, darted among his men to care for the wounded, organize a defense and destroy an enemy rocket position to keep his men from being overrun. He continued to rally his troops for eight hours after being wounded.

Rodela retired in 1975 as Master Sergeant and received the Medal of Honor on March 18, 2014.

Citation: Rodela is being recognized for his valorous actions on Sept. 1, 1969, while serving as the company commander in Phuoc Long Province, Vietnam. Rodela commanded his company throughout 18 hours of continuous contact when his battalion was attacked and taking heavy casualties. Throughout the battle, in spite of his wounds, Rodela repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to attend to the fallen and eliminate an enemy rocket position.