FAIRHAVEN — Matthew Rodriguez, a Marine killed in action in Afghanistan, was fondly remembered today at a funeral in his hometown as a man deeply devoted to his family and his country.
“He was born to be a Marine,” his sister, Lauren Webber, said, fighting back tears as she delivered a eulogy at the ceremony, which was attended by hundreds, including Governor Deval Patrick. “I am honored to be his sister. He is my superhero.”
She said her brother was very handy and meticulous. She remembered that when he was only 13, he painted a bedroom “without spilling a drop.”
As he got older, he was always happy to help out at her house, she said, and “he always did it with a smile on his face.”
Recalling how he danced all night at her wedding, she said, “He could do a mean worm.”
She called on people to remember veterans’ service and support the troops abroad in any way they could.
Rodriguez’s brother Adam spoke briefly, recalling his brother’s constant smile. The expression was so constant, he said, Rodriguez was nicknamed “Smiley” on the baseball team. “That was an understatement,” Adam said. “He loved everyone he met.”
Through tears, he said his brother “was my hero, and he still is. My Marine, and my hero.”
After speaking, he embraced his sister.
Chaplain James Dewey said Rodriguez served his county “with honor and valor.”
“He carried his faith with him and he fought the good fight,” Dewey said.
He also recalled Rodriguez’s smile, which, he said, sometimes got him in trouble in boot camp.
Bette McClure, minister at the First Congregational Church of Fairhaven, said it was natural for those who knew Rodriguez to be angry “at the unfairness of it all” and deeply sad that we live in a world “where hate and evil still exist.”
She said she didn’t know Rodriguez that well, but remembered him as a boy attending church. She spoke of his love of family, his passion for sports, and his desire at a young age to serve his country.
After a final hymn, Marines in uniform came down the church aisle to escort Rodriguez’s family and carry his casket out of the church.