Thomas Matthew Rienzi
West Point, 1942
Be Thou At Peace
Posted by Mike Conrad, '56 on December 30, 2010:
I first met Tom Rienzi at West Point in 1941 when he was a cadet and I was living there because my father was an instructor / professor in the Dept of Chemistry / Electricity. My father offered extra instruction in Electricity to those cadets who wanted / needed it. He usually met with these cadets on Sunday afternoons. It was during these tutoring sessions that I happened to meet Tom. Many years later, long after Tom had graduated and was serving in the Signal Corps and I was serving in the Infantry, I met him again and he would reminisce about those earlier meetings at my father's quarters at WP. Whenever we met later on, he always took me to task on why I did not follow my father and branch Signal Corps as he had done.
In Vietnam in 1970, I was serving in the 1st Cavalry Div, and Tom was there as the CG, 1st Sig Bde. I was a Bn Cdr, and in Feb, 1970, I began to establish and move the Bn into new firebases about every 4-5 days. While some firebases were relatively east to forge out of the jungle environment, others took considerable effort. One was so dangerous and tough to land a helicopter into that even my own Bde Cdr elected not to try. But Tom successfully landed. We had our usual stimulating discussion and he thought nothing about risking his life in order to visit. He was a wonderful role model and I will miss him. My pride is having a photo of the two of us taken that day in VN when he visited my unit.
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