George Snavely Rentz was born on July 25, 1882 in Lebanon Pennsylvania. He attended and graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary. Following his ordination by Presbytery of Northumberland in 1909, he preached to churches across Pennsylvania and New Jersey for eight years. He was appointed acting chaplain with the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade and assigned to the 11th regiment of Marines in France shortly following entry of the United States into World War I. He attained the rank of Commander in 1924; among his sea duty assignments he served onboard USS Florida (BB-30),USS Wright (AV-1),USS West Virginia (BB-48), and USS Augusta (CA-31). In 1940, when the USS Houston (CA-30) relieved Augusta as flagship of the Asiatic fleet extended his tour in the region as ships company on the USS Houston. It was aboard this cruiser he served so devotedly and enthusiastically, providing the ship's crew and officers with great hope and promise.
During an allied attack on February 4, 1942, Houston was under severe air attack. Commander Rentz spurned cover and circulated among the crew of the anti-aircraft battery, encouraging them. One officer noted, “when the sailors saw this man of god walking fearlessly among them, they no longer felt alone.” The Houston took a direct hit during the attack that disabled turret III and killed 48 men. A month later, Houston engaged in the battle of Java Sea alongside the Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth. Both ships were outnumbered by a Japanese troop convoy but they persisted in the ensuring melee of fire. The USS Houston fought valiantly through out the violent meeting but eventually succumbed to a barrage of torpedo fire and began to sink into The Pacific. The crew clung to floating wreckage as they were forced to abandon the ship. Chaplain Rentz along and others found themselves on a pontoon that was fast taking on water. Chaplain Rentz made several attempts to give up his life jacket to the young sailors on the wreckage. Having felt he had lived his life to the fullest and according to God’s will, he removed his jacket handed it to a seaman and said a quick prayer and swam away from the group on the pontoon on the morning of March 1, 1942.This selfless act of heroism resulted in Chaplain Rentz being the only Navy chaplain to be awarded the Navy Cross, United States Navy's second highest award for valor.
Commander George S. Rentz – Chaplain, USS Houston
A man of cloth, he chose to be among the men who followed the sea,
dedicated to our crew – with infinite care,
he tended and wounded with earnest prayer.
Unmindful of danger as the bombs rained down,
this man of god was always found
beside the dying and those terrible nights
bringing strength and courage – and final rites.
Thrown into the sea on the fateful night,
he watched our battered Houston sink from sight,
seeking a raft in the light of a flare;
he knows that god had answered his prayer.
A sailor at his side clinging to the raft
was wounded’ and strength was ebbing fast.
Having no life belt to keep afloat,
his chance of survival was indeed remote.
Without a thought for self, but with careful haste
the chaplain fitted his life belt to the sailors waist.
The hours passed, and come dawn,
the sailor was safe, but the chaplain was gone.
He had followed the law of the apostles creed,
his life, the price of a noble deed.
He went to his lord with no regret,
our fighting chaplain we’ll never forget.
May his soul rest in peace – forever and ever.
With reverence and affection,
Lloyd V. Willey
Current USS Rentz
USS Rentz (FFG 46) is the 40th Oliver Hazard Perry-class of guided missile frigates. The USS Rentz was laid down on 18 September 1982 at Todd Pacific Shipyards in San Pedro, California. She was launched 16 July 1983 and commissioned at Naval Station Long Beach on 30 June 1984 with CDR Martin Jules Mayer as the commanding officer.
In December 1985 USS Rentz moved from Long Beach, California to San Diego. Following initial shakedown cruises and operations, it was assigned to the USS Ranger Battle Group.
In November 1986, USS Rentz was part of an historic visit to Qingdao, the first US Naval visit to China since 1949.
In July 1987 FFG 46 deployed to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Earnest Will, and spent over three months escorting commercial tankers in the Gulf and through the Strait of Hormuz. After this deployment Rentz had a regular pattern of deploying to the Arabian Gulf for a number of years.
In August 1991 the guided missile frigate had a port visit in Hong Kong.
In October 1991 Rentz participated the Parade of Ships, part of San Diego's Accolades '91 celebration honoring local military units and installations.
In September 2003 USS Rentz participated in a counter-narcotics operation and offloaded almost 14,000 pounds of cocaine at Naval Station Mayport. In December FFG 46 returned to Naval Station San Diego after a scheduled deployment in the South eastern Pacific in support of the war on drugs.
In June 2005 USS Rentz arrived in Portland for a Fleet Week during the 97th annual Portland Rose Festival. Later in June Rentz rescued ninety Ecuadorian citizens from a distressed vessel in the Eastern Pacific and dropped them off at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala.
In June 2006 FFG 46 pulled to Portland, Oregon to participate in their Rose Festival's Fleet Week.
In May 2007 USS Rentz returned to San Diego after completing a six-month deployment to the western Pacific Ocean and Philippine Sea. The guided-missile frigate supported the Global War on Terrorism, Operation Enduring Freedom - Philippines (OEF-P), and Operation Ultimatum while assigned to Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) 515. In July USS Rentz arrived in the Port of Seattle for Seafair 2007 "Fleet Week" festivities.
In July 2009 USS Rentz departed homeport as part of USS Nimitz (CVN 68) CSG. In August the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Rentz (FFG 46) participated in the Undersea Warfare Exercise (USWEX 09). In October FFG 46 participated in joint training exercise Bright Star 2009, off the coast of Egypt. In November USS Rentz responded to a stress call from Motor Vessel Adnan Wahd, which was taking on water while at sea in the Central Arabian Gulf.
In March 2010 USS Rentz returned to Naval Base San Diego after an eight-month deployment. December 8, FFG 46 was off the coast of southern California as part of simulated opposition forces to USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) CSG Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX).
In May 2011 USS Rentz departed San Diego for a scheduled deployment in support of counter-illicit trafficking in the U.S. Southern Command AoO. In September USS Rentz pulled into Puntarenas, Costa Rica, for a port call to deliver five Costa Ricans and one Nicaraguan. In November 21, USS Rentz returned to homeport after six-and-a-half month deployment.