Rodriguez, Ben

Ben Rodriguez was born May 13, 1969 in Peru, emigrating to the United States at the age of two with his parents.  The family moved around a bit, ultimately settling in the Baltimore, Maryland area, where Ben grew up.  Coming out of high school in the late 80s, he chose to enlist in the Marines Reserve.  It was peacetime at that point, but events in the Persian Gulf were soon to spiral out of control, and Ben ended up being deployed in Operation Desert Storm.  Ben was attached to the 1st Marine Division, and they departed from California in a convoy that took them to the Persian Gulf via the Pacific and Indian Oceans.  Once there, they stayed afloat in the Persian Gulf and awaited the commencement of the fighting, as Operation Desert Shield went into the Storm and Sabre phases.  As a Marine mechanic, Ben traveled in the truck convoys that traced their way through the desert sand and storms and oil field fires, moving into Kuwait.  The war was over quickly, and Ben remembers traveling through areas where the fighting had happened just hours before.  With Saddam pushed out of Kuwait, American troops started to return home, though Ben’s regiment was kept in the area for months to act as a deterrent.  On their way back to the US, they stopped in Bangladesh to provide relief in the wake of a devastating cyclone.  They returned to the US in the summer, and Ben remembers that the war had already faded from people’s minds.  For Ben, like many other veterans, the adjustment back to civilian life was difficult, especially as triggering events like 9-11 brought back memories of Ben’s own war.  But he has channeled that in positive directions, getting involved with Irreverent Warriors, a non-profit that seeks to address the issue of veteran suicide and isolation through engagement and humour.  Ben is now a teacher, living in the Baltimore area with his family; Crestwood students were able to zoom with him in May 2021.