(ABC News) -- The family of a U.S. Marine who was killed in Afghanistan last year is heartbroken after a thief stole the only remaining memento he had with him when he was killed: a poem.
Lance Cpl. Matthew Rodriguez, of Fairhaven, Mass., was deployed to Afghanistan last fall and was killed by an IED in December, just two and a half months after he got there, his mother Lisa Rodriguez told ABC News today.
On his person when he was killed was a laminated poem his fiance, Julia Tapper, had written to him.
Watch more news videos | Latest from the US
The poem vanished when Tapper's purse was stolen Sunday in New Bedford.
"The first thing you think of is your checkbook and that type of thing, but then the things you can’t replace which, two of the most important things were a poem she had written to him that he had laminated and carried with him and it was on him when he was killed in Afghanistan, and his iPhone. Unfortunately we had not backed up all his photos and music, his messages to her, all those things that aren’t useful to anyone else, but are very meaningful to her and us," Rodriguez said today.
Tapper told ABC News affiliate WCVB in Boston that the poem was the single thing that still connects her most to Rodriguez.
"That's what he had when he was leaving. It connects me the most to him and makes me smile for him and me," Tapper told WCVB."He would say that poem was encouraging and positive, and that's what he was."
"He kept it with him and read it, it gave him confidence and comfort," Rodriguez said. "I can’t believe somebody would do that in the middle of the day."
The family is hoping that someone will find the poem and return it to them.
"When they’re deployed out on omissions, and he was a combat engineer, you can’t carry stuff with you, it all stays back at base and there are only a few things you have on your person. He had four or five items on his person and those things are precious," Rodriguez said.