Soldier killed in Afghanistan attack has former ties to the Chattahoochee Valley

Soldier killed in Afghanistan attack has former ties to the Chattahoochee Valley

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - An attack in Afghanistan killed two U.S. soldiers this weekend. This includes one soldier who worked at a local business while he used to be stationed on Fort Benning.

News Leader Nine spoke with one of the coaches at CrossFit CSG who says Sergeant 1st Class Antonio Rodriguez was a well-loved coach at their gym during his several years of coaching there while at Fort Benning.

Head coach Ana Griess says it was a shock to see SGT. 1st Class Rodriguez’s picture on a military article naming him as one of two soldiers killed in combat in Afghanistan over the weekend.

“It’s not something you want to see of a friend of yours in one of those articles that you see all the time," Griess said.

She says coached along Sgt. 1st Class Rodriguez, known as Rod, for several years.

“He always liked to say that he teased me so much because I was his little coach sister here at the gym. He was one of those people that as soon as you met him, he just kind of made an instant connection and really could just be personable and immediately start talking to you like he had known you for years," Griess explained.

According to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Sgt. 1st Class Rodriguez enlisted in the Army in 2009 and attended One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning.

He eventually went on to be assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment, which the Special Operations Command says he deployed with eight times.

“Whenever he came back, everybody was always excited to see him. He was a big part of the community here. Everybody loved him. Everybody was pushed by him to be better and he always wanted everybody to be their best person," Griess said.

Griess says she is going to try and include a little bit more of Rodriguez’s coaching style into her coaching.

“He always found like that sneaky way to get people to believe in themselves a little bit more, found that way to make them feel like lifting more or pushing themselves a little bit more was their idea rather than him," Griess said.

Griess says Sgt. 1st Class Rodriguez moved from Columbus to Florida last summer. The Department of Defense says Rodriguez along with Sergeant First Class Javier Gutteriez, who was also killed in the attack, were both currently stationed at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

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