The Department of Defense said Thursday that a 19-year-old Marine from Fairhaven was killed in combat in Afghanistan.
Lance Cpl. Matthew Rodriguez was killed Wednesday while conducting combat operations in Helmand Province as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was deployed in September.
Rodriguez's family told NBC 10 News they were heading to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Thursday night to retrieve the Marine's body.
Rodriguez was a 2012 graduate of the plumbing program at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School. His brother, Adam, is a senior this year.
"At first, he didn't know he wanted to do this, but as it came closer to graduation from high school it became apparent that he wanted to follow in my father's footsteps," Adam Rodriguez said. "He kind of lived in the now, I guess you could say. He loved what he did."
"He was a great brother. He always cared about me, always had my back through anything. He was a great person, always smiling, joking around with me. He loved me. He loved all of us very much. He loved everyone he was fighting for. He knew the consequences of what he was doing, but he still took it head on."
In addition to his parents and brother, Rodriguez leaves behind step-siblings and a fiancee. On Friday they were traveling to the Air Force base in Dover, Delaware to claim Matthew Rodriguez's body.
The Pentagon said Rodriguez was a combat engineer assigned to the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
A statement from Camp Pendleton said Rodriguez enlisted in the Marine Corps on Aug. 20, 2012. His personal awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and NATO International Security Assistance Force Medal in Afghanistan.
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