Rodney Alger Blyth – Colonel, United States Army

Courtesy of his classmates

United States Military Academy Class of 1946

Rodney Alger Blyth
No.15699 Class of 1946
Died 5 July 1988 In Lebanon, Pennsylvania, aged 65 years.
Interment: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

rablyth Rodney Alger Blyth was born 4 September 1922 in San Mateo, California. His brother James wrote: “Our mother’s musical background had a strong impact on us. At five, it became apparent that Rodney had an unusual interest in the piano. He was blessed with a rare characteristic–perfect pitch. An excellent student, he always carried a full curriculum in high school yet handled concurrently a scholarship at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He also became an Eagle Scout. Rodney graduated from Burlingame High School and attended the College of San Mateo, California, for two years before joining the Class of 1946 at West Point.

West Point roommate retired Colonel David L. Colaw, recalls: “Rodney, like many classmates, disliked horses and riding class. One afternoon we were being instructed in jumping. Most of us were doing fairly well, but three times Rodney’s horse balked. It was not until this third balk that someone discovered that Rodney was on an artillery horse in the class by mistake, who was not about to jump. ” Rodney held strong opinions, was determined and persevering and loyal to his friends-a man of high principles possessing a deep sense of personal honor.” Rodney liked to entertain his classmates by playing the piano and he often played the organ for weddings at the Cadet Chapel. He was the tallest member of the Class of 1946. Jack McWhorter recalled: “The upperclassmen in my company, B-2, had a Corps-wide reputation as being the meanest and toughest on plebes. I can remember as though it were only yesterday, Rodney coming out of the mess hall and being waylaid by the B-2 upperclassmen in the middle of north barracks. It looked like Lilliputians surrounding the giant.” At graduation, Rodney joined the Quartermaster Corps.

Following basic schooling, Rodney was assigned to the Philippines and then to Fort Campbell, Kentucky with the 11th Airborne Division. He was selected to attend the University of Pittsburgh for a master’s degree in Petroleum Engineering. He married Carol Leffler in Pittsburgh on 3 November1951, and they moved to the Washington, DC area where son, Jimmie, was born. Rodney’s next assignment was with Joint Task Force 7, Eniwetok Atoll, with the atomic test program. A few days after Christmas in 1953, he received word that Rodney Jr. had arrived on Christmas Day. Dewey and Rebecca were added to the family before the Blyths went to Europe. In Naples, Rodney diligently carried out his duties as a petroleum officer, safeguarding the crews, planes and ships in the Sixth Fleet. Son Jeffrey was born in Naples and the following year the Blyths moved to Mannheim, Germany, where Rodney was assigned to the 15th Quartermaster Battalion. Matthew was born a few months before the family returned to Washington, where Rodney was assigned to Headquarters, AMC. He graduated from C&GSC before the Blyths returned to Europe. After two years at Stuttgart, Germany, Rodney was assigned to SHAPE, Belgium, where he was instrumental in the development and operation of the pipeline system in support of NATO. Working with our NATO partners on a number of particularly challenging projects made Rodney’s NATO duty perhaps his most enjoyable tour. After departing Europe, Rodney served a tour in Vietnam as Director of Supply, USARV. In 1976, he retired as a colonel at Fort Meade, Maryland.

In his retirement at York, Pennsylvania, Rodney enjoyed gardening, woodworking, playing tennis and squash, the piano and writing music. He became quite active in encouraging local young people to attend West Point. Rodney died on 5 July 1988. He was survived by his wife Carol; a daughter, Rebecca (USMA ’80); three sons, Dewey (USMA ’77), Jeffrey (USMA ‘8l) and Matthew (USMA 84); two grandsons, and a brother, James.

A friend of Rodney’s retirement years, Lester Stitt, remembered: “Rodney was extremely intelligent and talented. His plans for a building project equaled those of any architect. Upon completion of the project, there was total perfection. No father could have been more proud of his children being graduates from West Point. He was dedicated to West Point and the Army. He loved his family the same way. Rodney never ceased to amaze me with his capabilities and his vast store of knowledge.”

Jack McWhorter recalled: “Rodney went into POL and I into R&D, so our paths never crossed professionally except at Fort Lee, Virginia. I remember Rodney as a thorough professional, totally dedicated to the Army. He carried the USMA motto, Duty, Honor, Country into his everyday life. He was a credit to West Point and the Army.”

Rodney’s beloved Carol reflected: “Rodney was proud to represent his country wherever he served. His quiet faith helped him endure the tragic loss of Jimmie at age 5 and Rodney Jr.’s losing battle with leukemia at 18. Through the years, when he would play the piano, Rodney’s offerings would always end with ‘Army Blue’. His piano is still now, but those strains remain.”

The Class of l946 is privileged to proclaim: “Well Done Rodney; Be Thou At Peace!”

’46 Memorial Article Project and his wife, Carol.

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