John Rodriguez

Hotel 6
John Rodriguez

Submitted by: Tim "CAPVet" Duffie

John Rodriguez, Hotel 6, and I met on the airplane on the way to Manila for R&R. Over the next few days we formed a friendship that has lasted to this day. We don't get to see each other very often, but we stay in touch periodically by phone.

On returning from R&R, John went back to Hotel 6, I went on up to Papa 2/4. After I was wounded, and while working supply out of Phu Bai, John borrowed my camera. Before he was able to return it, he was wounded. I visited him in the hospital just before he was sent stateside. On retrieving my camera on a supply run that day, I took the following pictures of the VC who had ambushed John.

I've added a few notes with the pictures from my conversations with John about the incident.

John squeezed off a burst from his M-16, catching the VC full in the chest, killing him.

During the ensuing fire-fight, as John sat on the ground in a state of shock, he crawled around picking up pieces of his arm, putting them in his pocket. He thought the doctors would need them when they put his arm back together.

After the fire-fight, John was too weak to walk back to the compound. For whatever reason, a med-evac wasn't available. John says a Native-American, remembered only as "Chief", carried him the four or five miles to the compound. Until his death on February 24, 2003, John believed that "Chief" was killed in action.

Tim "CAPVet" Duffie With The VC that shot John.

For the remaining 37 years of his life, John was upset because he couldn't remember "Chief's" real name.

In December, 2004, I received the following e-mail from Mack McClendon:

"...I did know Rodriguez briefly, I remember when he got wounded. We had split our squad into two teams: Swift Eagle, Rodriguez, Green, three PFs, Pierret, myself, and I can't remember the radioman.

Swift Eagle carried Rodriguez back to the compound. I will never forget that night; we had just gotten a new plt commander named Hitchins. When he marked the LZ, he tossed a frag instead of an illumination grenade. We were damned lucky that there weren't more people hurt. I don't know why Martinez stuck in my mind but when I read your story, I realized I had the names wrong.

Also, Chief's full name was John Paul Sherwin Swift Eagle, that's if I remember correctly, and he survived. I met him at Camp LeJeune just before I was discharged in 1968.

I believe that he was from one of the Dakotas if...I'm fairly sure he was a member of the Blackfoot tribe. Sorry I can't help more."

I located John in 1985. He lived in Chicago at the time. That same year I located Ray Borowski, also from Chicago. Ray and I had been in "I", 3/3 together, then we'd gone to CAC Papa 2/4 in March, 1967.

When I located both of them, we discovered that John and Ray had been in boot camp together.

reunion-85.jpg (93187 bytes)
Left to Right: John Rodriguez, Ray Borowski, Tim "CAPVet" Duffie
CAP Reunion, Washington, D.C., 1985

NOTE: John Rodriguez died before I received the information about John Paul Sherwin Swift Eagle. So, I notified John's family that we now had a name to add to "Chief". Without exception, they all expressed the hope that we can locate John Paul Sherwin Swift Eagle so they can thank him for saving John's life.

Tim "CAPVet" Duffie

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