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Officer Richard Rodriguez


Officer Rodriguez's Act of Heroism

Over 400 first responders lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Heroically performing their sworn duty, these firefighters, members of the NYPD and PAPD, and numerous other rescue workers will forever be remembered for their sacrifice.

My Hero

Port Authority Police Officer Richard Rodriguez gave his all in everything he did. So, his family and friends weren't surprised that on Sept. 11 he rushed to help rescue people from the World Trade Center. "When I saw it on television I knew he was there," said his mother, Ana Rodriguez, who watched the horrifying images from her house in Villalba, Puerto Rico.

For months, Ana Rodriguez held out hope that her 31-year-old son had survived and was in a hospital somewhere. It wasn't until Jan. 9 that Port Authority officials notified the family that Officer Rodriguez's body had been positively identified. "At least this way we will have a place to mourn and talk to him and bring flowers," his mother said, speaking about today's funeral service. Memorial services were already held in New Jersey and Puerto Rico in November.

Officer Rodriguez, who was born and raised in Perth Amboy, was a 1988 graduate of Middlesex County Vocational-Technical High School in Perth Amboy. At one time, he considered studying to be an architect but scrapped the idea for what he thought would be a more interesting job as a police officer. He attended Middlesex County Community College from 1989 to 1991 and studied criminal justice.

Officer Rodriguez was appointed by the New York-New Jersey Port Authority Police Department on Oct. 4, 1993. He was appointed to the tactical response bureau and then assigned to Newark International Airport before becoming an instructor with the police academy. He taught patrol operations, radio procedures, motor vehicle stops, water rescue, emergency vehicle operations and mobile video camera training. "He was always doing something. He wasn't one to sit around," his mother said.

He married Cindy, his childhood sweetheart, in 2000. The couple were in the process of buying a house in the Cliffwood section of Aberdeen Township. His wife went ahead and closed on the house on Dec. 26. "We were working on it together. It was something that he bought tools for. I had to finish it," Mrs. Rodriguez said.

Officer Rodriguez was a member of the Perth Amboy Volunteer Fire Department, the Perth Amboy Volunteer First Aid Squad, the Knights of Columbus and the Middlesex County Office of Emergency Management. He especially enjoyed being in the Monmouth County Pipes and Drums Band and was a drummer for the Port Authority Pipes and Drums.

Profile by Alicia Grey published in THE STAR-LEDGER.
Information courtesy of the Remember 9/11/2001 memorial site on


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