Roland Grenz

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 lines.

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 expeditions:

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 training.

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 Baptist Church.

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 daughter, Brenda.

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, 1943

Brenda, Irene and Rollie - Dec. 25, 1979

Bismarck, North Dakota


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 Camp.

Published in The BismarckTribune on 1/27/2005.



Obituary for Roland Grenz


Roland 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 the church.

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 and nieces.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Irene; his parents; his sister, Lydia; and his brothers, John, Adam, Fred, Edwin, Ernest, Gideon, and Jacob.


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