Peter Renda Jr.
Biography: Peter Renda Jr. was born on January 18, 1924, in Elmora, PA. He was the son of Peter Renda Sr. and Catherine Sano and attended school in New Brunswick, New Jersey, through the grammar level. He then worked as a stitching machine operator.
Service Time: Peter entered the service on July 16, 1943, at Newark, NJ. He was sent for his basic training and then more specialized training within the U.S. We believe that Fort Knox, Kentucky, figures prominently for the training he received since his military specialty of "Bow gunner", goes hand in hand with the armor training that went on at Fort Knox.
He was assigned to the ERC (Enlisted Replacement Center) and was probably transferred to an Armored unit that was in need of additional personnel, either here in the U.S. or overseas. It was during his training that in October 1943, he qualified as an Expert with the 30 Cal. Machine Gun and on February 1, 1944, he qualified as an Expert with the Thompson Sub-Machine Gun, both important weapons for a tanker. He shipped out on June 15, 1944, and arrived in Europe on the 29th.
Peter was ultimately assigned to the 701st Tank Battalion and served with them for some period. The 701st had been activated on March 1, 1943 at Camp Campbell, Kentucky, and was originally organized as special battalion equipped with CDL (Canal Defense Light) spotlight tanks. They shipped out from the New York port on April 22, 1944, and landed in Liverpool on May 1, 1944, shipping to France in August, where the battalion stayed until they were reorganized as a standard tank battalion after October 23rd.
Moving to the front on December 19th in Übach, Germany, they were attached to the 102nd Infantry Division. The unit joined the assault across the Roer River on February 23, 1945, and then attacked northward, reaching Rhine at Krefeld. They crossed the river beginning on March 26th, attached to the 75th Infantry Division. and then were reattached to the 102nd Infantry Division for the drive through the city of Munster and across the Weser River. At the end of the war, they were stationed in Gardelegen.
The 701st shipped back to the U.S. in December of 1945, but Peter would remain in Europe on occupational duty due to his late entry into the war. The men were sent home according to their points in the Adjusted Service Rating Score system or "Points" system. He would finally ship home on February 3, 1946, arriving back in the U.S. on the 10th. He received credit for participation in the Central Europe Campaign and was awarded the American Service Medal, the EAME Medal and WWII Victory Medal. He was discharged on February 15th, at the Fort Dix, NJ, Separation Center, at the rank of Private First Class.
The photo at left is Peter standing with his mother while he was on leave from the unit. As you can see, he is playing the guitar, which was one of his lifelong interests.
Now back in the U.S., Peter found work with the Okonite Company, which manufactured wire and cable. On January 16, 1952, he married the former Dorothy Ann Feaster, who was born in New Brunswick and was the daughter of George Conrad Feaster and Paula Kerns. The new couple would make their home in New Brunswick and have three children, David, born in 1952, Denise in 1957, and Steven in 1960.
In his spare time, Peter enjoyed music and liked to play the guitar. He was a deeply religious and quiet man but when he did speak, his words were deep. In 1962, he left Okonite and started working for the Middlesex County Road Department. Over the years, he passed up opportunities for advancement to remain as one of the laborers but he was always well respected by his peers and supervisors alike. His family remembers him as being devoted to his family but the memories and effects of the war would remain with him throughout his life.
Peter passed away on May 14, 2000, and was buried in the Saint Peter's Cemetery, also located in New Brunswick. I want to thank Peter's son, David, for providing the information and photos for this tribute.