Post, Eldon A (776th)

 Eldon A. Post

Biography:  Eldon Aaron Post was born on December 5, 1916, in Bellaire, Kansas. He was the son of Fred Post and Madeline Manchester and attended Bellaire schools through the 11th grade. He then held a number of jobs including farm hand, logging and general laborer. He also joined the Idaho National Guard and served in the 183rd Field Artillery Regiment.

Service Time:  Eldon entered the U.S. Army when the 183rd was Federalized on April 1, 1941. The 183rd moved to Fort Francis E. Warren in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where they trained with the anti-tank batteries of the 188th Field Artillery regiment which were formed into a Provisional Anti-tank Battalion. As of July 3rd, Eldon was serving in the Second battalion headquarters battery at the rank of Private First Class. After Pearl harbor was attacked, they were ordered to Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Washington, arriving at Camp Murray, located just south of Fort Lewis. The 183rd was almost immediately sent to protect the Washington Coast with the anti-tank battalion joining them in January. They remained there until recalled back to Fort Lewis in February, 1942.

The Provisional anti-tank battalion would become part of the 76th Field Artillery Brigade and on December 21, 1941, it was activated as the 776th Tank Destroyer Battalion. Eldon would be assigned to the Reconnaissance Company of the unit and continue to train with them as various components of the 776th soon began assignments as coastal and installation guards in scattered locations in the Northwest. They also trained at Camp Hood, Texas, and on January 14, 1943, they shipped out from the New York Port of Embarkation, arriving at Casablanca, French Morocco, on the 25th.

Fighting in the area of Maknassy and Ferryville, Tunisia, eighteen enlisted men were detached and participated in the Sicily, Italy, campaign as radio operators and military police. The unit then debarked in the vicinity of Cappaci, Italy, beginning September 19, 1943, and the main body was committed near Rotondi on October 10, 1943, supporting the Volturno River crossing. Although not mentioned by name, unit records state:

“On October 11, 1943, the company lost one light tank when it hit an enemy mine, wounding one enlisted man and forcing the remainder of the crew to evacuate their mobile fighter. As they returned on foot to join the battalion, they encountered enemy machine gun fire which forced them to lie in the open until darkness when they were able to make their way back. As a result of the enemy fire, two more enlisted men of that company were wounded.” Hospital Admission records from Italy (October 1943), confirm that Eldon was injured in battle and considered a battle casualty but he would later return to duty.

The unit then supported the Rapido River crossing and fought near Cassino from January through March, 1944, and joined the breakthrough of the Hitler Line in May, 1944. The 776th entered Rome on June 4th and joined the drive to the Arno River until they were transferred to southern France, from September through October, 1944, during which they drew M36 tank destroyers.  Moving into the line near Luneville on October 30th, they supported the French 2nd Armored Division’s advance to Strasbourg in November.

We are not sure of the circumstances but Eldon was discharged on December 10, 1944. We can only imagine that it may have been in connection with the wounds he had received earlier. Eldon received the Purple Heart in recognition of his injuries and was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal and the EAME (European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign) Ribbon with two campaign stars. He left the service at the rank of Private First Class.

After returning home, he initially worked as a bartender in a beer parlor but also held down jobs as a general laborer, working in both mining and logging industries and finally as a dairy farmer. On June 29, 1951, he married the former Virginia Lois McDonald who was born in Hall, Nebraska, and was the daughter of Osa Mora McDonald and Ella Genevieve Layher. The new couple would make their home in Caldwell, Idaho, and have two sons, Eldon Lee, born in 1952, and Paul Dean in 1953. In his spare time, the senior Eldon enjoyed hunting and bowling and was a member if the DAV (Disabled American Veterans).

Eldon passed away on December 3, 1997, and was buried in the Lower Boise Cemetery in Parma, Idaho. I want to thank Eldon’s grandson, Randall, for providing the information and photos of Eldon. Thank you also to Find A Grave contributor Cheryl Hanson for the use of the grave marker photo.