Joseph L. Renken, TM1(SS), USN (ret)
Joseph Leo Renken was born to John F. and Eleanor (Minnette) Renken of Dodge Center, Minnesota on October 29, 1938. He had two sisters; Joyce and Jeanette, and a brother, John.
He enlisted in the Navy in July of 1956 at Minneapolis and attended recruit training in Great Lakes, Illinois. His first duty station was Submarine School at New London, CT. From there he was assigned to his first submarine, USS REMORA (SS 487) out of San Diego, CA. It was on REMORA that Joe earned his dolphins. He attended underwater weaponry schools from May to July in 1959. By 1061, he had been advanced to TM3(SS).
Joe left the Navy in 1962 but the next sixteen months were not rewarding so Joe re-enlisted in the Navy in February 1963. He spent a little time aboard USS DIABLO (SS AGSS479) then he reported to USS JOHN C. CALHOUN (SSBN 630) Gold crew as a TM2(SS).
After two plus years on the CALHOUN, the unexpected death of Joe’s wife required him to leave the Navy with a Hardship discharge to care for his, then, very young daughter, Lori Jo. Joe remarried and fathered another daughter, Tara. It would be another four years (January 1970) before Joe could re-enlist in the Navy.
By March 1970, he was back aboard submarines; this time the USS HADDOCK (SSN 621). Joe served two years aboard HADDOCK then did a short tour on the sub tender, USS FULTON (AS 11) before getting some well deserved shore duty at the Naval Submarine Base, New London, CT. He spent the next three years in New London before being rewarded with a “twilight” tour at the Naval Training Center in Orlando, Florida where he completed his career and transferred to the Fleet Reserve.
Joe was awarded the Good Conduct Medal (three awards), Vietnam Service Medal (with one star), National Defense Service Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal, and the Navy Pistol Sharpshooter Ribbon.
Joe loved to travel. His travels during his Navy tours did little to satisfy his yearn for traveling nor his desire to see new and different places, people, and things. After his retirement, he continued to travel, eventually visiting every state in the United States.
He was an avid reader, enjoyed woodworking, art, classical music, Harley Hogs, cooking, and to be sure, fishing.
Joe’s daughter Tara, followed her father’s footsteps but chose the Air Force as her service. Tara retired in 2005 after 20+ years of service.
Joe had married Wanda Joy Gilbert in Clermont, Florida and they resided there till Joe’s passing September 13, 2003.