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      RGV Welcomes Fallen Soldier Home

      The only thing that consoles Antonio Rodriguez is knowing his nephew, Army Sgt. Rodolfo Rudy Rodriguez, Jr. died serving his country.

      The uncle was at McCreery Aviation in McAllen Saturday afternoon, when the 26-year-old's body arrived in the Rio Grande Valley.

      There, the soldier's family awaited his American-flag-draped casket, to finally take their loved one home to Weslaco.

      The proud uncle said Sgt. Rodriguez is a hero.

      "I'm honored that he died for his country," Rodriguez said. "Because he was out there defending our country, and he told his fellow soldiers to stay behind while he went out there to check-out the terrain to make sure everything was clear."

      However, things were not clear. Sgt. Rodriguez stepped on a land mine, resulting in his death on September 14 in Afghanistan.

      Saturday, Valley veterans continued to show their appreciation for the fallen soldier and his family.

      "It is outstanding, something immaculate that I wasn't expecting (to see) and it is something that a hero does deserve," Rodriguez said.

      Veteran Ruben Cantu, of the Veterans Advisory Board, said he has seen his share of somber homecomings in the Valley.

      He was one of nearly 90 veterans that showed up to welcome Rodriguez home.

      "We feel really bad and real sad that we have to welcome home another fallen hero, but we have to be out here to support him and his family, Cantu said. We do this every time we have to accept and bring a fallen hero home."

      Weslaco city leaders ask the community to fly their American flags at half-mast for the next two weeks, as a small symbol of appreciation for the service and sacrifice of Sgt. Rodriguez.

      Funeral services are set for September 26, at 10 a.m. at Templo Ebenezer located at 209 E. Sugar Cane Rd. in Weslaco; followed by burial at the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery in Mission.