Army Staff Sgt. Carlos Alberto Lazaney Rodriguez survived two deployments to Iraq and after nearly 20 years in uniform, was preparing to leave the service and move to Tampa, where his parents have lived since 2012, said his brother, Eduardo Lazaney Rodriguez.
But instead of moving to the family home on Habana Street, Lazaney Rodriguez today was laid to rest.
One of three soldiers gunned down on April 2 at Fort Hood in Texas, his body was taken to the Blount & Curry Funeral Home for services before being escorted by law enforcement and members of the Patriot Guard Riders to his final resting place at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell.
Standing outside the funeral home before the service in his Class A uniform, Eduardo Lazaney Rodriguez, a sergeant first class in the Army Reserve, recalled his brother’s service to nation and family.
“He was a great soldier,” said Eduardo Lazaney Rodriguez. “He was a great son and a good brother to me and my sisters.”
The family asked for their privacy, he said.
“We were blessed for the 38 years he was with us,” his brother said. “He was a great kid. The family is going to remember and celebrate his life today.”
Lazaney Rodriguez was originally planning to leave the service and return to Puerto Rico, where he was born, grew up and entered the service, said his brother.
But after his parents, Eduardo Lazaney and Maria Rodriguez, moved to Tampa two years ago, Lazaney Rodriguez decided to come here after service, said his brother.
Instead of a happy reunion, the family will bury him today in the same National Cemetery where another one of the Fort Hood victims, Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Ferguson — who lived in Brandon and graduated from Mulberry High School in 1993 — was buried Saturday.
“We are very happy we got him back with us,” said Eduardo Lazaney Rodriguez. “We want to make sure his final leg gets the proper respect and honor he deserves.”
Investigators say Lazaney Rodriguez, Ferguson and Sgt. Timothy Wayne Owens, 37 of Effington, Il., were gunned down April 2 by Army Spc. Ivan Lopez at the sprawling Texas Army post. When confronted by a base security officer, Lopez committed suicide with his own gun. Army officials say 16 others were wounded, 11 of whom have since reported back to duty. Five remain hospitalized near Fort Hood.
Lazaney Rodriguez did not know Lopez, his brother said last week on the lawn of the family’s Tampa home.
“It was random,” said Lazaney’s sister, Norilda Ounnarath, who lives in Abingdon, Md.
Lazaney Rodriguez, who was born in Puerto Rico, lived in Tampa in the past, according to his brother.
Aside from his parents and his brother, Lazaney Rodriguez’ other sister, Maribel Lazaney Rodriguez, and cousin Emmanuel Ramos Rodriguez, live in Tampa, said Eduardo Lazaney Rodriguez. Lazaney Rodriguez has a 10-year-old so, OH., Alexander Colin Lazaney Molina, who lives in Toledo, OH.
Before heading back into the funeral home, Eduardo Lazaney Rodriguez thanked the Patriot Guard Riders for their support during a difficult time.
“You have no idea how proud you guys made us,” he said.