Army vet educates about Korean War

June 22, 2009|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- Ned Renner was 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighed 110 pounds in 1946 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 16.

"A scrappin' kid," he said.

Renner, 79, signed up with a birth certificate that listed an incorrect year for his date of birth -- his ticket away from an unhappy home situation.

He said he tried to apply for military service at age 15 with a visibly doctored birth certificate, but he was rejected.

The second time around, he went to get a new copy of his birth certificate at Washington County Hospital and the clerk typed the copy, trusting his word when he gave an incorrect birth year and not checking the records.


Renner, who grew up on Elizabeth Street in the West End, said he attended Ridge Avenue School, Winter Street School, West Washington Street School and Woodland Way School. He left school to enlist, then got his GED and earned college credits through the military.

A veteran of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars, Renner said he never saw combat in his 20 years of service. An administrative specialist, he trained as a deep-sea diver and served as an agent with the Criminal Investigative Division.

He signed up in January 1946, not long after World War II ended, and went through basic training in Texas.

Renner's first overseas tour of duty was in Erlangen, Germany, and he witnessed parts of the Nuremburg trials and saw the Dachau concentration camp.

His wife, Gloria Longnecker Renner, and their son, Joe, accompanied him to postings in France and a second tour in Germany. They moved with him to assignments at Fort Meade, Md.; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Myer, Va.; the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.; and Pittsburgh.

Renner volunteered for a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1965, but was unable to fulfill a complete tour, so he retired from the military in November 1966.

The Renners, who have been married 59 years, have one grandson and two granddaughters.

After retiring from the Army at age 36, he worked for the Washington County Sheriff's Department for three years, then for the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles for 22 years as an investigator.

Renner, who lives in the Woodmoor development off Halfway Boulevard, is a member of Veterans of Underage Military Service and is commander of Antietam Chapter 312, Korean War Veterans Association. The group meets the first Wednesday of each month at the AMVETS building on Frederick Street.

To commemorate the 59th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, the group plans a display of Korean War memorabilia at Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown. An invitation-only reception will be Wednesday evening. The display will remain through Monday, July 27.

Renner said the display is intended to remind people there was a war in Korea.

"It was originally called a police action. If people were killed, I believe it's a war. We like to get into the schools and educate them on the Korean War," Renner said.

Renner can be reached by calling 301-739-5520 or by e-mail at

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