BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com/AP) - A 19-year-old Marine combat engineer from Massachusetts has died in Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced Thursday.
Lance Cpl. Matthew Rodriguez of Fairhaven died Wednesday during combat operations in Helmand Province, the Defense Department said.
Rodriguez was assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force based in Camp Pendleton, Calif.
The Marine Corps said Rodriguez enlisted in August 2012, and has been awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and NATO Medal-International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan.
Rodriguez's father, Roland Rodriguez, told the Standard-Times of New Bedford the family is headed for Dover Air Force Base in Delaware where his son's body is expected Saturday.
He said declined to make extensive comments, but said his son "made a lot of friends very quickly" in the Marine Corps.
Rodriguez's brother said, "The words don't even add up to how I feel about him."
He went on to say, "When we parted ways I told him I loved him and to be safe, he didn't listen."
Matthew Rodriguez graduated in 2012 from the Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech plumbing program. A school friend, Ryan Boswell, told the newspaper Rodriguez "was a very funny guy, very likable. He was just a great kid. He would do anything for anybody."
His teacher Oscar Amaral also remembers Rodriguez's "easy going" personality. Amaral told the Standard-Times that Rodriguez had wanted to serve in the military.
"At least he accomplished that, even though it wasn't for very long," the teacher said. "If you want to accept that kind of responsibility, you have to be proud of it."