Governor Orders Flags To Half-Staff Friday In Honor Of Las Cruces Soldier



Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has ordered all U.S. and state flags to fly at half-staff on Friday, Feb. 21, in honor of SFC Antonio Rey Rodriguez, the Las Cruces soldier who was killed in the line of duty in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.

Rodriguez and SFC Javier Jaguar Gutierrez of San Antonio, Texas, were killed earlier this month in Afghanistan.

“Our entire state grieves the loss of this young New Mexican who, at age 28, had already distinguished himself as a soldier through 10 deployments in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “My prayers remain with his wife, his parents and all who loved him. His service to our country will be remembered.”

A rosary will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Las Cruces. The funeral Mass will begin at noon Friday, Feb. 21, at the same location. Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery on March 3.

Per Gov. Lujan Grisham’s executive order, flags will fly at half-staff from sundown Thursday through sundown Friday to coincide with the local funeral mass for Sgt. Rodriguez.

In a separate tragic incident involving a New Mexico service member, Pfc. Walter Lewark died Feb. 13 in Djibouti.

“My heart breaks for the family and loved ones of Pfc. Lewark,” the governor said. “We are still waiting for information about what happened, but to lose a service member in any context, especially one so young, is a tragedy.”

Pfc. Lewark’s death did not occur in combat and remains under investigation. The 26-year-old from Mountainair was assigned to the 93rd Troop Command of the New Mexico Army National Guard. The Governor’s Office will announce a means of honoring the late Pfc. Lewark when appropriate.