Sergeant Rodney R. Eaton

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Grouping: Sergeant Rodney R. Eaton (ASN: #20746085)

Sergeant Rodney Richard Eaton was born on December 5, 1917 in Harrison County, Missouri. Rodney enlisted in the army on November 25, 1940, over a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor. He later served as auto mechanic in the Service Battery of the 231st Armored Field Artillery Battalion, of the 6th Armored Division.

The 231st Armored Field Artillery Battalion was activated on September 15, 1942 at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas. The unit departed to Europe from the New York port of embarkation, on February 11, 1944 and arrived 12 days later in England. The unit participated in all five campaigns of the 6th Armored Division.

The 6th Armored Division was divided into combat commands. Divisional combat commands were considered to be more flexible and could add or subtract battalions and platoons as needed from day-to-day operations. According to the new style, the 6th Armored Division had two permanent combat commands: A and B. These commands had no permanently assigned troops with the exception of a Headquarters company during training. However, when the 6th Armored Division got to Europe, Combat Command A consistently had Battery A, 777th AAA Battalion in its group and Combat Command B used Battery B, 777th Battalion almost permanently. The Reserve Command was for a place for troops off the front line, resting and refitting, re-supplying, and doing repairs.[1] The Division landed on Utah Beach, on July 19, 1944, two years and five months after the activation of the 6th Armored Division. By July 24, the last of the division’s troops and equipment was assembled in the vicinity of Le Mesnil near the west coast of the Cherbourg Peninsula.

In July the Division was involved in various operations, in the Normandy region. Securing several bridges, and relieving the 4th Armored Division in Avranches, which entered combat on July 17. In august 1944, the Division received orders to move to the Brittany region, north-west of France. It closed in on Brest on August 7, where it destroyed a German Force at Plouvien in the following days. While combat command A remained in Brest, combat command B relieved the 4th Armored Division at Vannes and Lorient, respectively August 12-15, 1944. The Division then moved to relieve the 35th Infantry Division of protecting the South flank between Orleans and Auxerre on September 2.

In November of 1944, the Division went to the Lorraine region, north-east of France. Here it crossed the Nied River on November 11, against strong opposition, reaching the German border on December 6, and established and maintained defensive positions in the vicinity of Saarbrücken.

In response to the German Ardennes Counteroffensive, the Battle of the Bulge, the division was given the responsibility for the sector south of the Sauer River, between Ettelbruck and Mostroff on December 27, 1944. The division was heavily engaged in the Mageret and Wardin area, east of Bastogne, commencing on December 31. The unit was forced to withdraw by German attacks, until January 8, 1945, when it counterattacked to recover lost ground in its sector. By late January 1945, they finally drove the enemy back across the Our river, into Germany.

After a short period of rehabilitation, the division resumed the offensive. It penetrated the Siegfried Line and reached the Rhine River at Worms on March 21, and set up a counter reconnaissance screen along its west bank. The 6th crossed the Rhine at Oppenheim on March 25, drove on to Frankfurt, crossed the Main river, captured Bad Nauheim, and continued to advance eastward, and surrounded and captured Mühlhausen on April 4-5. After repulsing a light counterattack, it moved forward 96.5 kilometers to cross the Saale River and assisted in freeing Allied prisoners of war and the notorious German concentration camp at Buchenwald. The division raced on, took Leipzig, crossed the Mulde River at Rochlitz on April 15, 1945, and stopped, pending the arrival of the Red Army. Defensive positions along the Mulde River were held until the end of hostilities in Europe.

Sergeant Rodney R. Eaton, while serving in the 231st Armored Field Artillery Battalion, participated in five campaigns in the European Theater of Operations. They are listed below with the time limitations for each campaign, as determined by the War Department.
– Normandy (6 Jun 1944 – 24 Jul 1944)
– Northern France (25 Jul 1944 – 14 Sep 1944)
– Rhineland (15 Sep 1944 – 21 Mar 1945)
– Ardennes-Alsace (16 Dec 1944 – 25 Jan 1945)
– Central Europe (22 Mar 1945 – 11 may 1945)

The 6th Armored division was deactivated on September 18, 1945 at Camp Shanks, New York.

After the war, Rodney Eaton became a construction & maintenance foreman, in the Branch of Land Operations, and retired on January 5, 1973.[2] His civilian career spanned a 27 year period of service to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, at the Colorado River Agency, in Parker. In his work he planned and directed the field construction work, and directed the irrigation maintenance and rehabilitation activities for the Colorado River Irrigation Project during a period of increasing development. He trained and upgraded the skills of Indian equipment operators and others assigned to the Operation & Maintenance Unit.

In January 1969, Eaton received one of the largest cash awards made by the Colorado River Agency for an adopted suggestion. He developed, from surplus equipment, a mobile paving concrete mixer which saved thousands of dollars during the gunite lining operations on a major lateral. At the same time, he received another cash award for his adopted suggestion involving a sprayer for spraying concrete curing compound.

Rodney Eaton passed away on July 5, 1995 in La Paz , Arizona at the age of 77.

[1] High Ideals: the life of Michael J Galvin, ISBN 978-1-4343-2865-6 (p. 140)
[2] The Kiowa County Signal, July 12, 1995 (p. 10)