A native of Huntsville, Utah, Keith Renstrom grew up on a farm during the Great Depression. Feeling the need to follow in his father’s footsteps and serve his country, Renstrom joined the United States Marine Corps in 1940. After his recruit training in San Diego, Renstrom was deployed to Iceland, where he stayed for several months in preparation for a possible German invasion. Keith was sent back to the United States for additional training and in 1943 was assigned as a Gunnery Sergeant to F Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment as part of the 4th Marine Division.
Keith and the 4th Marine Division shipped out from California in January 1944 bound for their first combat on the islands of the Kwajalein atoll. Following the short and vicious campaign on Kwajalein, Renstrom was sent to Maui for rest and refit before entering combat again in June 1944 on the island of Saipan. On Saipan, Renstrom experienced his first taste of truly heavy combat. Renstrom’s unit pushed eastward from the landing beaches, capturing Aslito airfield and engaging the enemy along the eastern side of the island at places like Hill 500, Donnay, Hill 721 and finally Marpi Point. It was at Marpi that Renstrom watched as hundreds of civilians plunged to their own deaths after throwing themselves from the cliffs to the jagged rocks below. Following the campaign on Saipan, Renstrom and his unit landed on Tinian and proceeded along the western side of the island capturing the airfields and Tinian Town by the end of July, sustaining a leg wound in the process.
Following action in the Marianas, Renstrom and the 4th Marine Division were sent back to Hawai’i for rest and refit before their final battle of the war, Iwo Jima. Landing on February 19, Renstrom stayed on Iwo Jima for eleven days of constant combat, before his luck ran out. Renstrom was evacuated from Iwo, having suffered wounds from a Japanese grenade that exploded in his face, putting him out of combat. For the remainder of the war he served as a Drill Instructor in San Diego, instilling the lessons he learned in combat to future Marines.
We honor you, Keith Renstrom.