"Freedom comes at an expense," said civilian Rocky Rodriguez.
A year and a half ago Rocky answered the call of duty, enlisting in the army with war just around the corner. "We can say, 'Well, it's not for me, or somebody else will do it,' but if we have that mentality, pretty soon everybody gets lax that somebody else will do it," he said.
Left behind on the South Plains? His new bride Antonia, who'd just found out she was pregnant. How did she plan on coping? "I don't know, but I've got his family around, so I'm not too worried," she said.
Within days of his enlistment the war began. But after basic training, Rocky was sent to south Korea, serving a year and four months before getting the call for Iraq. "I'm anxious, I'm ready to go," said private first class Rocky Rodriguez. He's a mortar man now, in the first of the Ninth Infantry - Second Brigade and also a father. "I'm more motivated now than what I ever was," he said.
Antonia and Jacob have been strongly supported by Rocky's parents, and are strongly supporting Rocky. "I want him to do what he thinks is best," she said. But it's by no means been easy. "How much time have you been able to spend together as a family since you joined?" asked NewsChannel 11. "A month, two months," replied Rocky. And in another two months, he will be in Iraq.
We asked him a year ago how he felt about death. "If it comes to laying down my life for my country, I'll glady lay it down," he said. A year later? "That hasn't changed, that hasn't changed," he said.
Bravado forged not from ego, but from friendship. He's back in Lubbock to serve as a pallbearer for family friend Freddy Velez, killed in Iraq just days ago. And there are others that evoke courage and pride, like the memory of one of his first mentors. "I need a second," he said choked up. He was a Sgt. First Class, killed by shrapnel his first month in Iraq.
And so, a year and a half later Rocky Rodriguez and family are still waving the flag, uncertain about the future, except for the sacrifices. "Freedom doesn't come free," he said.