On July 19th, Specialist Rene J. Rodriguez, an El Paso native and Army combat medic, was recognized for his heroic actions during a Soldier’s Medal award ceremony for saving a woman from a brutal assault.
Leaving Schofield Barracks that afternoon, Rodriguez was heading to the North Shore for the weekend, when he noticed a woman being violently assaulted outside of a coffee shop in Wahiawa.
It wasn’t only the violent act he saw, but a crowd of bystanders and onlookers doing nothing to stop it.
With complete disregard for his own safety, he made the decision to intervene. Putting himself between the attacker and the woman, Rodriguez took the brunt of the attack, shielding the woman while encouraging her to climb into his vehicle.
“He [the attacker] comes back around, opens my door, opens the passenger door and pulls the lady out, and begins to beat her again. I run out of my driver’s side, I go the passenger side and I push him, he pushes me back,” Rodriguez recalled in an interview.
His pushing and shoving allowed the woman to get back in the car.
“I am about to sit down,” the Army Specialist continued, “and this is when he punches out the window and attempts to pull out. So I look to the side. And I see that he’s trying to unlock the car. At this point. This is when I started my car, I put it in drive. I just drove away.”
Introduced in July 1926, the Soldier’s Medal is the highest Army individual decoration honor a Soldier can receive for an act of valor in a non-combat event. Over 18,500 Soldiers have received the decoration since its inception.
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Of the 18,500 soldiers that have received the award, only 241 in the regular Army have been so honored—or around about 1/20th of 1% of all soldiers on active duty.
“Receiving the Soldier’s Medal is a humbling experience that reminds me of the values we hold dear as soldiers: courage, selflessness, and dedication to the greater good,” Rodriquez said in a statement.
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