SSgt Richard S. Eaton Jr.
  • Date of passing: Aug 12, 2003
Let the memory of SSgt Richard be with us forever

Army Staff Sgt. Richard S. Eaton Jr., 37, of Guilford, Conn.; assigned to the 323rd Military Intelligence Battalion, Army Reserve, based at Fort Meade, Md.; died Aug. 12 in Ramadi, Iraq, of heat stress and exertional rhabdomyolysis after a 24-hour firefight in Hit, Iraq, the day before.

Guilford family questions death of son in Iraq

The Associated Press

GUILFORD, Conn. — The parents of an Army counterintelligence analyst who died in Iraq are questioning whether their son’s death was unavoidable.

Staff Sgt. Richard Eaton Jr., a counterintelligence analyst, received several intravenous applications of fluids after a 24-hour firefight in 110-degree weather and was sent back to his barracks the night of Aug. 9.

He was found dead the next morning.

The Army mixed up Eaton’s medical records, and failed to monitor Eaton while he got intravenous fluids, said his father, Richard Eaton.

“It will always leave the question of whether or not it was necessary that he died. On that basis alone, it was not necessary,” the elder Eaton said.

The soldier’s father is a spokesman for the University of New Haven, home to the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science. Lee and a colleague, former New York City medical examiner Michael Baden, have helped the Eaton family review Army records.

The Army’s medical examiner reported that Eaton’s body temperature was 105 degrees. It turned out that another soldier had that temperature, and his records were put in Eaton’s file by mistake, the elder Eaton said.

Because of the mistake, the medical examiner never tested Eaton’s brain stem, and advanced decomposition made it impossible to do blood tests.

Baden will review tissue slides taken from Eaton, but the soldier’s father said it is possible that this review will not resolve whether his son died from the heat or from something else.

The elder Eaton said the Army has been very cooperative in the investigation.

“There are no bad guys here. Things slipped through the cracks, but there was nothing untoward,” he said.

Richard Eaton Jr. was assigned to the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment from Colorado.

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