Leaving the family farm in Montgomery, Alabama is what Catherine Reynolds remembers as a leading factor for her husband, Master Sergeant Glenn “Bill” Reynolds, to enlist in the military at 17 and a half years old in 1939.
Even though he needed his father to sign for him, Reynolds said her husband knew it was time for him to leave the farm and see the world.
Little did Reynolds realize he would be front and center to the Imperial Japanese Navy’s surprise attack at Pearl Harbor Naval Station in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. It was an event that cost the lives of over 2,400 people and thrust the United States into World War II.
“Every person at Pearl Harbor on the 7th of December, 1941 was totally and completely surprised with the totality of damage to ships and the horrible loss of life and (the number of) those injured,” according to an excerpt from a soon-to-be published autobiography Glenn wrote. “The total devastation wrought by the hands and minds of the animalistic Japanese was done completely without any provocation. I have never been angry or disgusted with any human being as I was with them that day.”
At the time of the attack, Reynolds, who was stationed on the Battleship Maryland, and his crewmates were trapped on both sides by the wreckage of the capsized Battleship Oklahoma and obliterated Battleship Arizona.
“About a hundred yards from where they were, there was an oil tanker loaded with oil. By then, the ocean around them is on fire because of the oil from the Arizona and is headed towards this tanker,” Catherine said. “[My husband] said that [the fire]was their biggest fear in that moment because it would have blasted them all away.”
After the tragedy at Pearl Harbor, Glenn moved to various posts around the world, which eventually led him to a supply depot in southeast London, England where he worked alongside British forces to maintain their armaments and ammunition during the war.
This so happens to be the same time when he met his wife, Catherine, who herself worked for the Admiralty of Great Britain. She worked as a position similar to Glenn, helping supply U.S forces with ammunition.
After serving during WWII, Glenn served in the Korean War after being called in by the National Guard while living with his wife and son in Montgomery, Alabama.
And while he did not go overseas for the Vietnam War, Reynolds played a part in the operations here in the U.S. during that time.
“He loved the Navy. That was his life,” Catherine said about their life moving around to wherever the service called him, including posts in France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and across the U.S. “We were all over. He was a soldier that did not get homesteaded.”
Reynolds passed away in 2012 due to complications with diabetic gangrene. But his family is working hard to publish an autobiography that recounts his experience in the military.
“My husband typed this, but he had a lot of corrections [that needed to be done]. So he and I started making them, but he got sick and passed away [before it could be finished],” Catherine said.
He received multiple honors and medals in his lifetime for his service to his country, including his own brick on the Veterans Walk of Honor at the Pacific War Museum in Fredericksburg.
Glenn is survived by Catherine along with their two children, nine grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.
Jimmie Quintero, member of the Kyle/Buda VFW Post 12058, said the post honored him with a ceremony following his death.
“After Sergeant Reynolds passed, we had a special ceremony for him after that, but we continue to remember him and the way he served his country,” Quintero said.
But for members of the Kyle/Buda VFW Post 12058, joining other groups in honoring the victims and veterans who were there that day is an important occasion. Quintero, a veteran of 26 years, will be involved with helping with a small ceremony to take place at the VFW during its next regular meeting.
“It’s important to remember this not only because of the attack, but how we reacted,” stated Quintero, the Officer of the Day for the Kyle/Buda VFW. “That attack brought us together as a nation, and it’s shows how Americans pull together to overcome challenges.”