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York WWII Veteran Remembers Okinawa

Front Cover of “Eighteen Years & 82 Days” by Frank Renda, as told to George Mitch
Front Cover of “Eighteen Years & 82 Days” by Frank Renda, as told to George Mitch

“Eighteen Years & 82 Days” is filled with memories of the Battle of Okinawa, however it also provides personal experiences of growing up in York during the Great Depression. It makes for a great read; be sure to check out a book signing on Thursday March 19, 2015, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Nefra Communication Center, 3433 East Market Street in Springettsbury Township.

Among the WWII battles Frank Renda, an armorer in the U.S. Marine Air Corps, took part in, the Battle of Okinawa was the most harrowing. The island of Okinawa was critical to the war effort; it would provide nearby air bases essential for the anticipated invasion of Japan. The battle began with little Japanese resistance on April 1, 1945; next month will mark 70-years ago.

Okinawa quickly turned into fierce relentless combat; it became the biggest of the Pacific island battles with the highest U.S. casualties. By the end of the 82-day battle, the Allies had suffered more than 65,000 casualties; including 14,000 dead, of which 12,520 were from the United States.

Frank Renda’s Memoir was as told to George Mitch. I’ve known George Mitch since 1972; he was my boss in the Advance Engineering Department at York Division of Borg-Warner from 1972 to 1982.

If not for a chance encounter, we might not have this book. Fifty-years ago, George Mitch stopped by his usual barbershop, and as he opened the door, they were sweeping-up, telling him, “We’re closed.” George remembered a little shop on South George Street. Opening the door, he saw the barber closing the window blinds and began to back out. The barber told George, “Wait, I’ll cut your hair.” The barber was Frank Renda. George liked the quality of the haircut so much, Frank has been cutting George’s hair ever since.

“Eighteen Years & 82 Days” is not the first collaboration between Frank Renda and George Mitch. Frank and George are co-inventors of a Hair Dressing Comb, upon which they received a United States Patent in 1986.

Their collaboration on the book began with George Mitch meeting with Frank Renda weekly, for roughly two years; tape recording Frank’s memories. George put these memories down on paper and Nefra Communication Center in Springettsbury Township published the book.

Not only is this book an excellent account of growing up in York and of service to our country, it should also serve as an inspiration for others to create similar books. If you know of someone with a story to tell; explore these memories and write them down. Meet with that person weekly for a period of time, tape recording their memories. Let “Eighteen Years & 82 Days” serve as an example, you’ll find the end result to be very rewarding.

Locally, “Eighteen Years & 82 Days” can be purchased at Nefra Communication Center, 3433 East Market Street in Springettsbury Township.  The e-mail address to order the book is rendafrank1882@gmail.com, with details at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Frank-Renda/588085031324212

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