Rensi, Edward (Interview transcript and video), 2019


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Rensi, Edward (Interview transcript and video), 2019


Smither, James (Interviewer)


Edward Rensi was born on December 7, 1925 in Parlett, Ohio, and grew up in Wintersville. He received his draft notice on March 14, 1944 when he was eighteen years old and chose to enlist in the Navy. He was then bussed to Great Lakes Naval Training Station near Chicago for Boot Camp. After graduating Boot Camp, Rensi was trained off to Camp Shoemaker, California, where he awaited assignment. In June of 1944, he was shipped out on a troop transport ship from San Francisco to the Marshall Islands. Rensi was then assigned to the USS California. His duty was to clean compartments aboard the ship as well as maintain the ship’s air compressor units. The California sailed to Saipan and then up to the Mariana Islands. Offshore from Saipan and the Marianas, the California fired shells upon the beaches, inland factories, and Japanese ammunition dumps in support of the ground troops. Rensi was on watch the night the California collided with the USS Tennessee, after which he sailed to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu Island, for repairs. The California was then prepared and redeployed from Palau to support the invasion of the Philippines. In the Lingayen Gulf, the California was struck below the upper control towers by a Japanese kamikaze plane, above Rensi’s former battle station, causing severe fires and damage to sailors and ship alike. After two months of repairs in Bremerton, Washington, the USS California traveled back to California before redeploying to Okinawa in the late spring of 1945. With the end of the war, the California anchored near Japan and Rensi was able to make it ashore twice. He recalled visiting Tokyo and a postwar memorial service in the Philippines, as well as taking other trips to Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Cape Town, South Africa. The California returned to the United States in December of 1945, docking in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the crew prepared it for scrapping. Rensi was then discharged on May 5, 1946 and proceeded to drift around before deciding to move to Detroit, Michigan, for work on the automobile assembly lines. He was laid off several times and eventually went to work in the coal fields near his hometown before retiring in 1985. Reflecting upon his time in the service, Rensi believed the Navy was a tremendous experience, teaching him the value and meaning of life.




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Grand Valley State University Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives, 1 Campus Drive, Allendale, MI, 49401.


Veterans History Project (U.S.)






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Rensi, Edward C., “Rensi, Edward (Interview transcript and video), 2019,” Digital Collections, accessed May 23, 2024,
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