Paul Quintin Rodgers, 71 of Moline, IL passed away in the early morning on October 30th, 2019, at Genesis Hospital in East Moline where he had been rushed the day before, after a very sudden illness. He was the first born son of Dwight Oliver and Evelyn Leanore Peterson Rodgers. He was born on July 30th, 1948 in Moline, IL and resided in Rock Island until he entered the Army in June of 1968, completing his basic training at Ft Gordon, GA.
In basic training, Paul’s superiors soon discovered that Paul had the mark of a valuable soldier. His ability to fire five rounds of ammunition through one hole at 75 feet impressed his sergeants, earning him distinction in the artillery. The torture trap at that fort was called Red Hill, a sandstone incline stretching for 30 yards. It formed a barrier that some GIs spent hours trying to climb, often in failure. Some fell helpless before the hill with scraped knees, infested with blood poisoning, but Paul, a former gymnast, wrestler and marching band member, consistently scaled that obstacle.
In May of 1969, Paul had volunteered on a mission to scout the position of the N. Vietnamese enemies. He was assigned as a radio man. Because the helicopter was over weighted and packed like sardines, it was ill fated to plummet and Paul was thrown from the Chinook in the worst copter crash of the war, his neck whipping violently across the radio backpack. He suffered a severed 6th and 7th vertebrae and became at that moment, a quadriplegic. He earned a Purple Heart for his bravery.
Paul once said, ‘It doesn’t make any difference whether I am in this wheelchair or not. I know that I can do anything that I endeavor to do from this chair. I know that God made me whole and the best way to serve God is not with any single part of my body, but with all of it.’
His nephew, Daniel Matthew Amoni, had this to say about Paul, 'He would race me in his wheelchair, and one time we even went to Aurora University and played tennis. He wouldn’t let his condition get in the way. At the same time, he made it known that there were always others who do need help. Paul would bring someone he had just met to the family Thanksgiving dinner, welcoming them when they had nowhere else to go. Those kinds of things impressed upon me the attitude to care for others and not let apparent obstacles get in the way.'
Paul lived a very adventurous life and was admired by many for triumphing over tragedy. His determination, independence, free spirited nature and his positive attitude evoked reverence and inspiration as he advanced beyond adversity and traveled on his quest of exploration...learning about life.
Paul was preceded in death by his brother, Guy Douglas Rodgers, his father, Dwight Oliver Rodgers, his mother, Evelyn Leanore Rodgers, and his sister, Dorothy Eva Rodgers Sprung, a beloved brother in law, Frank John Sprung and a beloved sister in law, Carolyn Applebee Rodgers. His best friend at the time of the war, Bill Farrell, Bettendorf, IA, was killed earlier in 1969, in the Vietnam War.
He leaves to cherish his memory, his sister, Jill Kay Rodgers Amoni, Aurora, IL, his brother, George Milton Rodgers (Anne Odermatt), Fallbrook, CA, several nieces, nephews, some wonderful, some great, and many wonderful friends and neighbors, particularly, Juli and Chris Zimmerman along with their children who helped Paul often with simple and not so simple (for Paul) tasks and made sure his belly was often full of Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas bounty!
We are all so very very grateful for Paul’s service to our country and are better for having known him.
Visitation for Paul will be Thursday, November 7th from 10 until 11 a.m. at Wheelan Pressly Funeral Home and Crematory, 3030 7th Ave., Rock Island with a short service conducted by Pastor Stephen Palm at 11 a.m. A procession will follow to the Rock Island Arsenal for a graveside service.
Online condolences may be left for the family at wheelanpressly.com
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