The Road to Anchors
Advice from a World War II-era chief
Retired Chief Photographer's Mate Joe Renteria has lived an extraordinary life, a life that began in 1917 and saw him rise up and forge his grit, leadership and determination in the throes of the Second World War. At 100 years-old, he still walks with the confidence and gait of a much younger man.
Surrounded by an assortment of cameras, both antique and new, he recently spoke to All Hands Magazine about his life and career: From being orphaned at a young age, to finding love and acceptance at a boys home, his short stint in the Army in the mid-1930s to his enlistment in the Navy and his path to becoming a chief petty officer, Renteria has seen and done it all, and has the sea stories to prove it. He's a living piece of history, but mostly, he's just proud of the men he led and served with.
Renteria enlisted prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor and earned his anchors during a time of war, in a time of battles on land and sea. He dodged enemy fire on Guadalcanal and took reconnaissance photos from the air over the high seas of the Pacific. He said his time spent in the Pacific islands was some of the most hazardous: You never knew where the enemy may be lurking. It was nerve-wracking, from seamen to petty officers, Renteria's number one goal was to keep his men alive.
"As you work up to be a chief ... there's certain obligations that you have to perform yourself, certain steps, certain duties," said Renteria. "The most important one is dependability; that's the main thing. When you become a chief, that's the first thing that you think of: That man is qualified."