Ferdinand Rodriguez was born on June 13, 1948, in Puerto Rico. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on August 22, 1967, and completed Basic Training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in October 1967. He then attended Advanced Individual Training as an Infantryman at Fort Jackson from October 1967 to February 1968, followed by service as an Infantryman with the 25th Admin Company of the 25th Infantry Division in South Vietnam from March 1968 until he was captured and taken as a Prisoner of War on April 14, 1968. After spending 1,766 days in captivity, SSG Rodriguez was released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Valley Forge General Hospital in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, and received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army on September 12, 1973; receiving his discharge from the U.S. Army Reserve on October 3, 1975. Ferdinand Rodriguez died on June 1, 1998, and was buried at the Puerto Rico National Cemetery in Mayan, Puerto Rico.
His 2nd Bronze Star Medal w/Valor Citation reads:
Staff Sergeant Ferdinand Rodriguez distinguished himself by heroic actions against an enemy force of the United States of America while serving as a Prisoner of War in Cambodia from 30 May 1972 to 20 June 1972. Staff Sergeant Rodriguez conducted himself in a highly commendable manner during a confrontation between the senior ranking officer of the prison camp, Lieutenant Colonel Schrump, and the prison camp officials and cadre. The senior ranking American officer had been ordered to make bamboo stakes for perimeter security of the prison camp since they would serve as a deterrent to prisoners in any attempt to escape. Refusing to obey this order, the colonel was threatened and punished for many days, and, although suffering from malaria, was refused medical aid. Realizing that their punishment would not change the colonel's mind, the prison camp officials then refused to give him food or water. At hearing this, although weak and suffering from severe malnutrition, Staff Sergeant Rodriguez endangered his well-being by giving the colonel his full support by refusing to eat or drink until the camp cadre gave Colonel Schrump food and water. This condition continued for several days until a final decision was made and Colonel Schrump was returned to his cell, given food and water, and normal camp life was restored. During this period, Staff Sergeant Rodriguez's courage, aggressiveness, and leadership by example were in the highest traditions of the military service and reflected great credit upon himself and the United States of America.