Military and Personal History
2 September 1918 - September 25, 2008
Roland Grenz was born 2 September 1918 on a farm near
Burnstad, North Dakota. He and his parents moved to a farm
three miles east of Napoleon, North Dakota in 1920. Roland
attended grade school in Napoleon Public School and also
took a Home Study Course while in school. Roland was a farm
laborer on the family farm until he was inducted into the
Army during WWII 8 May 1941 at Fort Snelling, Minnesota at
the age of 22.
Roland completed 3 years and 24 days of service. He took
his six-week basic training at Camp Clairborne, Louisiana.
From Camp Clairborne he was transferred to Fort Dix, New
Jersey where he served in Anti-tank Company, 135th
Infantry. He came home for Christmas leave in 1941 and was
transferred overseas 30 April 1942, arriving in Clougher,
North Ireland 13 May 1942 on the ship Queen Elizabeth. In
Ireland, Roland was in charge of the Officerís Mess. He left
North Ireland 14 Dec 1942 and arrived in Scotland 14 Dec
1942. He left for Liverpool, England 16 Dec 1942. He left
Liverpool 23 Dec 1942 on ship of Oran, North Africa arriving
3 Jan 1943. Roland continued to serve in the Mess Hall. He
left Oran, North Africa 17 Sep 1943 via truck convoy, the
Division fighting its way to Tunis, Africa. The last battle
he participated in was Hill 609 in Africa where the Germans,
under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, surrounded his division.
For unknown reasons, Rolandís division escaped capture by
the Germans. Roland saw many truck convoys of dead German
soldiers who were then buried in trenches.
Roland has his tonsils taken out in Casablanca, Morocco,
Africa by a doctor who had been drunk the night before and
said he almost died from the operation. He traveled to
Casablanca via ambulance and came back alone on the African
train to his Unit in Oran, surrounded by Arab and French
people. He was very frightened being alone.
He left Tunis, Africa by ship for Salerno Beach Head,
Italy 21 Sep 1943 with the 135th Infantry
Division. Roland nearly drowned coming off the ship for the
beach. A lot of bombing was taking place during this time.
The Division moved from the Beach Head to Cassino, Italy
near the Monastery that was located on top of the mountain.
The Germans had artillery stationed at the Monastery. Roland
stated they lost 3500 soldiers one night during one of the
battles in Italy and that he survived a number of fighter
aircraft strafing attacks. On one occasion he could actually
see the face of the German pilot as he pulled out of the
dive as Roland and another soldier ran for their lives to
escape the attack. Roland was within one mile of the front
The Division was 20 miles south of the Monastery when
Roland was wounded in action by enemy shell fragments to his
mid-back from incoming shells on 26 June 1944 in Italy.
Roland was carried by stretcher onto an ambulance and taken
to the Military Hospital in Naples, Italy where he stayed
until he was returned to the US 11 April 1944 via ship to
Trenton, New Jersey. He as transferred to and hospitalized
in the VA Hospital in Clinton, Iowa where he received his
Honorable discharge 1 June 1944. From Clinton, Iowa he was
transferred to the VA Hospital in Fargo, North Dakota where
he received 100% disability and separation from the Army.
Roland participated in the following battles and
The Tunisian Campaign 12-17 Feb 1943; WUFE mission (Ssbiba
Valley, Sbeitia, Kef-Elahmar) 25-27 Feb 1943; WARD FORCE
(vicinity of Elala and Sbiba Valley) 5-6 Mar 1943; FONDOUK
27 Mar - 3 April 1943; FONDOUK 8-12 April 1943; Hill 609 and
vicinity 27 April - 10 May 1943; The Italian Campaign 21 Sep
1943 - 26 Jan 1944. On 7 June 1944 he was paid $135.24, plus
travel pay for his time in combat.
Roland received the following medals and awards:
The Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Medal,
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two
bronze stars, and the Purple Heart Medal. He as discharged
as Technician Fourth Class Noncommissioned Officer.
He was a member of the American Legion, lifetime member
of Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Elks Club, Lions Club,
and the Bismarck Baptist Church.
Rolland still has his Gideon New Testament that he
received at Fort Snelling, Minnesota from the Chaplain,
which he read again and again during his days in the
military. He played organ for two weddings while in basic
He was converted to Christ under the ministry of Rev
Albert Itterman, Napoleon, ND, evangelist and pastor, when
he was 14 years old. Roland was baptized in Round Lake near
Ashley, ND by Rev Knaap and became a member of Napoleon
While serving in Italy, Roland visited the city that was
buried as the result of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius where
Paul preached. Roland said, "I pretended there were a lot
people there and I read the scriptures out loud."
Roland and Irene were married in the Baptist parsonage,
Napoleon, ND by Rev Edward Kary. Edwen and Ida Grenz, Gideon
and Gloria Grenz, and Clinton E. Grenz (as a child) were in
attendance 10 Dec 1944. Roland and Irene raised one
Roland worked as a manager for Wentz Chevrolet, Napoleon,
ND after his release from the military. He then worked for
the Napoleon Post Office. During this time he received
medical treatment in Bismarck for his wound. He then decided
to move to Bismarck, ND in 1955 since he needed weekly
medical attention. During his remaining years in Bismarck,
he worked for Kleppe & Meyer Realty and then Northern Realty
for 25 years. During his earlier years, he managed a farming
and cattle operation as a sideline. Later on he purchased
and sold lots and apartment houses in Bismarck. Roland was
known for his wise, conservative investment decisions in
property, stocks, and bonds. He was a avid golfer during his
later years. Rolandís career was that of a farmer, soldier,
postal worker, broker, and builder.
C:\All Documents1\Clint Grenz\Roland Grenz\Roland
Grenz Military and Personal History2 September 1918.wpd
Roland and Irene
Dad Fred and Roland Grenz
|Roland with his
Mess Sargent in an Olive Grove, Africa February,
and Rollie - Dec. 25, 1979
Obituary for Irene M. Grenz
Bismarck Tribune, ND
January 27, 2005
Irene M. Grenz, 83, Bismarck, died Jan. 24, 2005, at a
Bismarck hospital. Services will be held at 10 a.m.
Saturday, Jan. 29, at Bismarck Baptist Church, with the
Rev. Donald Burnett officiating. Burial will be in
Sunset Memorial Gardens, Bismarck.
Visitation will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. today and 9
a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at Eastgate Funeral Service,
Bismarck, where a prayer service will be held at 7 p.m.
Friday. Visitation will continue for one hour prior to
the service at the church.
Irene was born March 30, 1921, to John and Katherine [Raile]
Rau. She was raised and educated in Napoleon. She worked
on the farm at home until Dec. 10, 1944, when she
married Roland Grenz. They moved to Bismarck in 1955.
She worked with her sister, Laura Becker, for Interior
Designs, doing painting and staining work for 18 years.
She retired after her daughter, Brenda, was born and she
became a full-time homemaker. After raising her
daughter, she provided daycare for her two grandkids
from 1992 until 2004.
Most important to Irene were her family and her church.
She was a member of Bismarck Baptist Church. She always
enjoyed preparing a lunch to share with family and
friends who stopped by. She enjoyed reading, walking,
shopping, cooking and working. Her favorite times of all
were when she was taking care of her grandkids. She is
dearly remembered as a woman who always put the needs of
her family ahead of hers.
Irene is survived by her husband, Roland Grenz,
Bismarck; one daughter, Brenda Grewatz, and her fiance,
Bryan Njos, both of Bismarck; two grandchildren, Kayla
and Austin Grewatz, Bismarck; one brother, Walter Rau,
Napoleon; three sisters, Helen Wentz and Alvina Kemmet,
both of Napoleon, and Laura Becker, Bismarck; and
numerous nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents; three
brothers, Ervin, Milton and Eugene; and two sisters,
Alice Rau and Agnes Retzlaff.
The family requests memorials to Crystal Springs Baptist
Published in The BismarckTribune on 1/27/2005.
Grenz, 90, died September 25, 2008, at the Benedictine
Living Center in Garrison.
Funeral services will be held on
Tuesday at 2:30 PM at Bismarck Baptist Church in
Bismarck with Pastor Merle Hoots officiating. Burial
will be at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Bismarck.
Visitation will be Monday from 2:00
Ė 9:00 PM at Eastgate Funeral Service, 2302 E. Divide
Avenue, Bismarck, with a prayer service at 7:00 PM.
Visitation will continue one hour prior to service at
Roland was born on September 2,
1918, on a farm near Burnstad, ND, the son of Fred
Grenz, Sr. and Christina (Schnaidt) Grenz. He attended
grade school at Napoleon Public School. Roland was
converted under the ministry of Rev. Albert Itterman,
in Napoleon, ND, when he was 14 years old. He was
baptized in Round Lake near Ashley, ND, and became a
member of Napoleon Baptist Church. Roland was a farm
laborer on the family farm until he was inducted into
the Army during World War II in May of 1941 at Fort
Snelling, MN, at the age of 22. He received the
following medals and awards: Good Conduct Medal,
American Defense Medal, European-African-Middle
Eastern Campaign Medal with two bronze stars, and the
Purple Heart Medal.
Roland and Irene were married in the
Baptist parsonage in Napoleon by Rev. Edward Kary on
December 10, 1944. Together they raised one daughter,
Brenda. Rolandís career was that of a farmer, soldier,
postal worker, realtor, and builder.
He was a member of the American
Legion, a lifetime member of Disabled American
Veterans (DAV), Elks Club, Lions Club, and the
Bismarck Baptist Church. Roland had a number of
hobbies. Before he was drafted into the Army, he loved
to play horseshoe. After the war, Roland played golf,
took up bowling, and continued to play pool.
Roland is survived by his daughter,
Brenda (Bryan) Njos; his grandchildren, Kayla and
Austin Grewatz and Cody and Bryttni Njos; and nephews
He was preceded in death by his
wife, Irene; his parents; his sister, Lydia; and his
brothers, John, Adam, Fred, Edwin, Ernest, Gideon, and