FORT MEADE, Md. — "They served in silence."
This engraving, located on the NSA/CSS Cryptologic Memorial Wall at NSA-Washington, honors the life and contributions of the 178 Agency personnel who paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend our country.
"The NSA/CSS Cryptologic Memorial Wall honors our colleagues who have given their lives 'serving in silence' in the line of duty since 1950," said GEN Paul M. Nakasone, Commander, U. S. Cyber Command, Director, NSA/Chief CSS. "It serves as a constant reminder of the seriousness of our mission and the crucial role we play in keeping the United States secure."
On Thursday, GEN Nakasone hosted the 2022 Memorial Wall Ceremony to honor those who fell in the line of duty in service to the Agency and the Nation. The ceremony, which was held for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, paid special respects to SFC Antonio Rey Rodriguez, whose name was engraved two years ago after he fell in the line of duty on 8 February 2020.
"This special remembrance has been two years in the making, but that does not diminish in any way the importance and significance," said CSM Sheryl D. Lyon, USCYBERCOM Senior Enlisted Leader, NSA/CSS Senior Enlisted Advisor. "It is fitting to be observing Memorial Day in such a special way, and the family and friends that have joined us here today speaks volumes of the man that SFC Rodriguez was."
In attendance at the ceremony were SFC Rodriguez's mother, Guadalupe Rodriguez-Jaramillo; step father, Javier Delgado Jaramillo; younger brother, Christopher James Rodriguez-Jaramillo; and beloved wife, Ronaleen Omega.
SFC Rodriguez joined the Army in 2009 where he served in the 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, and the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, deploying eight times overseas. He served as a cryptologic linguist and was responsible for analyzing critical communications.
It was in Afghanistan that SFC Rodriguez and his unit were ambushed by a rogue Afghan policeman in the Sherzad district of the Nangarhar Province in eastern Afghanistan. His body was flown back to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware where it was received by then-President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence before being sent to his home town in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
"Rod was the guy that always put his men before himself," noted a fellow solider. "He was a familiar face both in and out of the U.S., whose personality radiated on those around him. No matter where you went on the globe, Rod always had a friend there."
SFC Rodriguez's name was added to the granite memorial wall in March 2020, joining the other 177 names of Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, and civilian cryptologists whose legacy will forever be remembered.
"It is appropriate that each year at this time that we pause to reflect on the stories of these 178 men and women, military and civilian, who were also sisters and brothers, friends, and loved ones," GEN Nakasone said. "It is these people whose courage, patriotism, and dedication to mission we memorialize here and honor today."
GEN Nakasone and CSM Lyon were joined by SFC Rodriguez's family as they hung the memorial wreath at the base of wall. To honor his memory, SFC Rodriguez's family took etchings of his engraving.
"Every day I pass by this wall, I think of the brave men and women who have given their lives so that we may live in freedom," GEN Nakasone said. "I also think of their families who have also sacrificed and lost so much. This wall reminds us all of the heavy burden we, as citizens of our Nation and employees of the National Security Agency, must bear."
"As world threats continue to evolve, our Nation will continue to depend on us to protect our highest ideals and our interests at home and abroad," he added. "Reflect on the lives we live today to be the best people we can be to honor the memories of those we have lost. And appreciate the opportunity we have to be here now in this great Nation with each other and for each other."