MUNCY- Already a seasoned military man when the United States entered World War I in April 1917, the career and life of Muncy's Benjamin Harrison Renn would be marked with 34 years of service to his country.
Ben was the son of Civil War soldier, Private Silas D. Renn of Muncy and his wife Elizabeth Dean Heffner of Sunbury. It is of interest, however unsubstituted, the possible origin of the youngster's name. An event just prior to Ben's birth on Oct. 8, 1888, was the election of America's 23rd President, Benjamin Harrison. The president was himself in the Civil War.
Previously as a senator from Indiana, Harrison found favor with his comrades by putting forth laws providing pensions for Civil War widows.
Benjamin Harrison Renn served 32 years in the military. Horses were used during the Muncian's early years of service as his unit enforced neutrality laws by patrolling the Mexican border.
At age 22, our local subject enlisted in the Army and on October 22, 1910 was assigned to the 14th U.S. Calvary. For a time, he would be among forces countering the insurrection in the Philippines.
Back to the United States and during June of 1912, Renn was assigned to Fort Clark, Texas. There he advanced to the rank of Corporal where his troop patrolled the Mexican border enforcing neutrality laws. During a two-month period, the soldiers covered 2,902 miles on horseback.
By Jan. 31, 1914, after being back in Muncy for a short time, Renn re-enlisted and was assigned to Troop H, Second U.S. Calvary at Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont.
It had been little more than a month following the country's entrance into WWI that on May 25, 1917, when the soldier was commissioned a Captain. He became commander of the 302nd Machine Gun Battalion at Camp Devens in Ayer, Mass. The newly established 5,000-acre camp was one of many hastily constructed to train troops for WWI.
Seven months later, Renn left for France. After involved in hostilities there, he was discharged Oct. 20, 1919.
In 1920 at Muncy, Renn wed Mae Breneisen. However, the soldier's service to his country continued as he remained in the inactive reserves. In April 1933, duty called again when he went to Virginia as overseer of a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp.
Renn would serve in another World War when in February 1942, the longtime soldier was deployed to Trinidad. There he served in anti-submarine warfare logistics. His final discharge was July 5, 1944.
During the first 10 years of their marriage, five children joined the Ben and Mae Renn family. Each would make contributions to their country. They included son, Jack "Casey" Renn, who served in the Navy, and entering the Army were sons William A. and Ben Renn Jr.
The couple's two daughters were government employees in Washington D.C. Residing in Falls Church, Virginia, they were Margaret "Peggy" Printzenhoff and Ida "Betty" Neal.
Ben H. Renn the father, spent his retirement years in Muncy residing at 3 South Main Street with the family residence occupying the second floor. Other areas of the building served as a cigar store, pool room and bar. Known as the Green Dragon bar, it was the first in Muncy to receive a liquor license following prohibition. The proprietor also served on the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
During his lifetime, the veteran had been active in several organizations. They included the Elks Club and 40 & 8 of Williamsport, a 32nd degree Mason and member of the Blue Lodge at Essex, Vermont, the Consistory at Burlington, Vermont and the Shrine at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
In the fall of 1958, the 70-year old veteran became ill. He was admitted to the Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D. C. where he died on Jan. 15, 1959.
The hero of two World Wars was a member and former commander at the Roland Ritter Post 268 American Legion, Muncy. Four generations of the Renn family are listed as life members on the roster at Muncy's Edward J. Smith VFW Post. They include: Benjamin H. Renn; son Ben Renn, Jr; grandson Casey Renn, Coast Guard retired of Michigan (our informant); and great-granddaughter, Army veteran Alyson Tedesco.
It was 11 years ago, this month when the younger Benjamin Renn Jr. passed away. Due to the family's more than 150 years of military service, it is little wonder Ben Jr. worked vigorously with local patriotic organizations, so much so the community dubbed him 'Mr. Memorial Day.'