“Big Rodgers was more than just a member of the platoon. He was a staunch pillar in our ranks both morally and physically. He radiated a quiet encouragement that sustained our confidence. In battle, he manifested a courage that translated itself into deeds and a bulwark of security for us all”.
– Ross Carter in his book, “Those Devils in Baggy Pants.”
PFC Thomas Lloyd Rodgers, b. Apr. 5 1921 d. Jun. 15 1944, was the son of Evans and Eva Allie Rodgers [Bass]. Enlisted on Nov. 25 1940.
PFC Rodgers was a decedent of B.B.“Shug” Bass, Jr. The 82nd had long served and endured combat over months of action in Italy leading up to D-Day, when they found themselves in England for rest. Rose carter describes various indulgences enjoyed by himself and fellow soldiers in the 82nd during this “rest”, but his only reference to “Big Rodgers” is to say that he was there to keep an eye on friends, being a teetotaler. Which I’m sure would make his mother proud.
T. L. Rodgers was one of a very few to volunteer to drop with the invasion on D-Day.
Rose Carter documented one of his final exchanges with “Big Rodgers”, having told him to be careful Rodgers responded after a pause, that “he’d be as careful as he could, but he may not be careful enough this time”.
Thomas L. Rodgers who Sgt. McCarthy believed had been killed on June 6th when they both were misdropped on a German Garrison, actually landed in the walled courtyard of the garrison. He managed to deploy his Browning automatic rifle and shoot his way out of the area and get to safety. He served with the 507th in combat until 6/15/1944, when he engaged the Germans heroically and was killed in action. Rodgers’ friends received the news in England that T.L. had been killed in action. According to reports received from his 1st Bn C Company Comrades, he had given a good account of himself.
They were told that in action near St. Mere Eglise he slew 40 Germans and received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions.
“Distinguished Service Cross
AWARDED FOR ACTIONS DURING World War II
Rank: Private First Class
Battalion: 1st Battalion
Division: 82d Airborne Division
Headquarters, XVIII Airborne Corps, General Orders No. 45 (1945)
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Private First Class Thomas Lloyd Rodgers (ASN: 20421704), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with Company C, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division, in action against enemy forces on 6 June 1944, in France. Having jumped into Normandy in the vicinity of Amfresville, France on 6 June 1944, Private First Class Rodgers, observing many of his comrades pinned down by enemy machine gun and small arms fire, moved without hesitation to destroy the enemy. Mounting a stone wall, in full view of the enemy, he neutralized the machine gun position and proceeded forward, driving back the enemy with effective fire from his Browning Automatic Rifle. During this action Private First Class Rodgers killed or wounded 25 of the enemy and made possible the organization and advance of our troops in the area. His personal courage, aggressive leadership and courageous inspiration contributed materially to the success of his comrades and exemplified the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States, reflecting great credit upon himself, the 82d Airborne Division, and the United States Army. Private First Class Rodgers was later killed in action against the enemy.”
A few days after being notified of the death of their friend a package from PFC Rodgers’ mother arrived. The key item in the package was new socks. Those closest to Rodgers, and whom had served with him the longest, each took a pair of socks and reserved them for use only in combat.