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View a eulogy for Thomas Matthew Rienzi, USMA '42, who passed away on December 15, 2010.

Thomas Matthew Rienzi

West Point, 1942

Be Thou At Peace

Posted by Jim Hankee, USMA '58 on January 30, 2011:

My remembrance of "Long Tom" Rienzi goes way back to mid-1962. I was recalled to active duty because of the "Berlin Crisis" from the Philadelphia area to Fort Bragg where then Col. Rienzi happened to be stationed. I had known him when I was a cadet and like all cadets who knew him thought he was a very special person.

Due to a chance meeting after Mass one Sunday he asked how I was doing and I related to him a very difficult medical problem I was trying to cope with....Our first child, Ellen, had been born in Philadelphia at Jefferson Hospital (my wife didn't join me at Ft. Bragg due to the fact she was 7 months pregnant when I was recalled). Ellen unfortunately was born with a tracheoesophageal fistula; this meant that her esophagus did not attach to her stomach but attached to her trachea and her food went into her lungs; immediate surgery was required. The surgery was done and a lengthy follow-up in the hospital followed.

The medical bills were obviously very, very high...the problem was that a key doctor at the hospital would not accept Army Medicare as payment; till this day I remember his quote, "Lieutenant, I operated on your daughter not the United States Army!"

Col. Rienzi arranged a special light-aircraft to fly me to Washington to personally meet with the DA to ask them to resolve this with the hospital doctor. It was ultimately resolved.

Only a very special person like "Long Tom" Rienzi would have personally gotten involved in this way. He was a great person!

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