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NEWS | May 3, 2024

Army Reserve memorializes facility for fallen Iraq War veteran

By Sgt. Salvatore Ottaviano 99th Readiness Division

The U.S. Army Reserve’s 99th Readiness Division and Military Intelligence Readiness Command hosted a ceremony April 23 to memorialize the Army Reserve Center here on Kingman Road.

Staff Sgt. Richard S. Eaton Jr., for whom the facility is now named, served as a counterintelligence agent within the MIRC. He died of heat-related injuries Aug. 12, 2003, following a protracted firefight in Al-Hit, Iraq.

“In November 2003, while serving here, I was notified that I was being mobilized and transferred to a unit that was stationed outside of Richmond that was in the process of deploying to Iraq,” said Maj. Gen. Deborah Kotulich, Deputy Chief of Army Reserve, to a audience of several hundred gathered for the ceremony. “I didn’t know Staff Sergeant Eaton, nor did I know that he had died earlier that same year following the horrendous firefight in Al-Hit.

“Mrs. Eaton, I know that you would give anything not to have lost your son,” Kotulich said to Sharon Noble Eaton, Richard’s mother. “Your son’s sacrifice is a story we can all be inspired by and rally around; please know it is deeply meaningful to me, as it is to you.”

A native of Guilford, Connecticut, Eaton worked here as a contractor for Intelligence and Security Command before volunteering to deploy to Iraq. He previously worked with Army G2 (Counterintelligence) at the Pentagon, where his office – which was under renovation – was destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“Thank you with all my heart for honoring my son Rick today; the honor is not only my son’s, but also belongs to all Army counterintelligence agents who work silently worldwide,” said Mrs. Eaton. “Rick’s name appears on the INSCOM memorial dedicated to service members who made the supreme sacrifice; it is fitting that that memorial is less than a mile from here.

“I’m grateful that Rick and his service did positively influence the arc of history,” she added.

Before deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Eaton last served as a counterintelligence agent assigned to Bravo Company, 323rd Military Intelligence Battalion. While deployed, he was attached to 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, where he supervised a counterintelligence team and worked closely with Human Intelligence Soldiers in Al Anbar Province.

“It has been just over twenty years since Staff Sgt. Richard S. Eaton Junior sacrificed his life for our nation and for his fellow Soldiers on the battlefield. Today, we recognize his service and celebrate the person he was,” said Brig. Gen. Melissa Adamski, MIRC commanding general. “Staff Sergeant Eaton gave his life in Iraq and we honor him as the MIRC’s first Global War on Terrorism combat-related casualty.

“Mrs. Eaton, thank you for your support that led to the person and Soldier that Rick was – the type of leader we all aspire to be, and the type of leader we always hope to have by our side,” Adamski continued. “I am thankful you can be with us today to help honor Staff Sergeant Eaton, and for us to be able to share with you the impact of his leadership and sacrifice.”

This facility was previously named for John S. Mosby, who served as a Confederate calvary officer during the American Civil War. The Department of the Army directed the Army Reserve to implement the Congressional Naming Commission’s directive to remove the names from all U.S. Army Reserve assets that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America.

“Congress determined that we would no longer commemorate – in the Department of Defense – the Confederates or the Confederacy,” said Kotulich, who noted that she became Chief of Staff for Army Support to the Naming Commission in December 2021. “To be clear, this isn’t about erasing history – commemoration and history are two different things. It’s about commemorating the best examples from our national past to inspire the best forces for our national future; history remains unchanged.”

Eaton’s third great-grandfather was Union Civil War-era Breveted Maj. Gen. Amos Beebe Eaton, a West Point graduate who served as Commissary General of the United States Army and retired in 1874 after more than 45 years of military service.

“It strikes me as particularly fitting that we honor the descendant of a Soldier who fought for our Union during the Civil War,” Adamski said.

“Rick was influenced by family military history and service – Soldiers were among his heroes,” said Noble Eaton. “May the military intelligence and counterintelligence Soldiers training in the MIRC flourish as they work in this land of the free because of the brave.”