Wednesday’s Leaf: Rodney Earl Lundquist

I wrote about Rodney Earl Lundquist (my grand uncle) last year. Rodney was born on October 16, 1923 in Smithfield, Utah. On January 4, 1943, Rodney enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Private.

Recently, I stumbled across some wonderful photographs and documents pertaining to Rodney’s time in the military. Of particular interest was a letter written by Rodney to his mother (Eugenia Harris Lundquist) while serving in Belgium. Here is a transcript of the letter:

Thanksgiving Day 1944

Still in Belgique

Dearest Mom,

I am still in Belgium and I am well and happy. It is getting colder over here but I am warm. I have plenty of clothes and believe it or not, I have a nice warm bed. I guess I was a little luckier than those great guys in the infantry. I hope that on this day you are feeling okay, still smiling, and the same for Charles and all my friends. I haven’t had a letter from you in quite a while. I guess there is something wrong with the postal service. I guess I just don’t deserve any letters because I don’t write much, but as long as I get a letter from you, I don’t care much about anyone else.

The proper Sunday after you receive this letter, I would like you to bear my testimony in behalf of me. Now-after all these months overseas, I know that there is a God and His son Jesus Christ and that Joseph Smith is the true prophet of the Lord and that on this Thanksgiving day, I was thankful to be an American soldier and above all, Mom, I am thankful for you and to you for everything that I have been or ever will be.

Today for our dinner, we have [a] nice young turkey, sweet and mashed potatoes, gravy, apple pie and some good cake. Gee, it’s going to be swell. I hope I can have my next Thanksgiving dinner with you, Mom.

Well, Mom, I must close now, give my love to Charles and everybody at home.

All my love to the best mom in all the world.

Your son,


P.S. A Merry Christmas and a Happy, Happy New Year.

God bless you.


Rodney Earl Lundquist (1923-1944)

Rodney was killed on December 23, 1944 in Belgium. He was 21 years old. His obituary was printed in the January 8, 1945 Salt Lake Tribune.


Obituary of Rodney Earl Lundquist

Rodney received the Purple Heart medal for his service.

Rodney Earl Lundquist and World War II

My Grand Uncle, Rodney Earl Lundquist, was born on October 16, 1923 in Smithfield, Utah. On January 4, 1943, Rodney enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Private. According to enlistment records, Rodney was to serve “for the duration of the War [World War II] or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law.”

Enlistment records show that Rodney had one year of college and was a “semi-skilled” painter. When Rodney joined the Army, he was single and without dependents. Records say he was 6′7′’ in height and 124 pounds.

On December 23, 1944, Rodney was killed in Belgium. His death certificate lists the cause of death as “World War II.” 

Death Certificate of Rodney Lundquist

I believe Rodney was initially buried in Europe. According to one record, Rodney’s body was returned “from ETO” to Utah on March 17, 1949 for reburial. “ETO” refers to the European Theater of Operations, which directed U.S. Army operations in parts of Europe from 1942 to 1945. 

The term “theater of operations” was defined in the U.S. Army field manuals as “the land and sea areas to be invaded or defended, including areas necessary for administrative activities incident to the military operations." 

Rodney was buried in April of 1949 in the Smithfield City Cemetery.

Headstone of Rodney Earl Lundquist