Thursday, October 30, 2008

Personal Hero: Wynne M. Trenholme (W2LDK)

This is a personal hero of mine who I visited with earlier this week. Wynne is 94 years old and still lives across the street from where I grew up on Long Island. He's in excellent health with very low cholesterol and blood pressure of 110/70 (the secret to longevity?). He lives alone and he still drives around town.

After my father, Wynne taught me more about electricity and electronics than anyone else. He worked for Grumman for nearly 20 years. In the 1960s he worked on the LEM, training the astronauts on the spacecraft's communications systems. The radio signal to communicate from the moon to earth was about six watts which is the same of an average CB radio, except the LEM signal was highly directional compared with a CB's omnidirectional signal. He gave me a few of the LEM's amazing training manuals.

During WWII Wynne served in the U.S. Merchant Marines (starting in the enlisted ranks and working up to LCDR) so we frequently talk about the ship's steam cycle. But, my knowledge can't compare to his years of experience working in the engine room. He has some great stories including one time when he was in a tsunami out at sea. The ship's captain received warning of the coming wave and simply turned into it as the ship rose and dropped more than a hundred feet. After all, as long as a tsunami is in waters deeper than its wave height it won't "trip" as it does when reaching the shore.

In high school, he taught me about firearms. We used shoot .22s in his basement against a steel bullet trap and we'd usually end a shooting session by firing black powder after casting the musket balls or minie balls ourself with a lead melter. A couple times we went to Maine to shoot his M1911, made in 1917, and his 45-70.

About once a year he sends me books on the Marine Corps or Annapolis with personal inscriptions on the inside cover. This week he gave me The Few and the Proud, Jarhead, and One Bullet Away.

I can only hope to live as long and be in great health as he is at 94.


Will Dwinnell said...

I can only hope to live as long and be in great health as he is at 94.

Perhaps you should hope instead to play his role for someone else?

Anonymous said...

Joe Moreno is my 2nd cousin (or is it 1st cousin once removed)? But from the time we were about 14 until he moved to the west coast, I was a frequent quest in his family's home. Growing up in Brooklyn had it's challenges and it was always a welcomed change to be able to spend a few weeks during summer vacation out on LI. I remember Wynne fondly. He'd always have us over his house to eat or target shoot down in his make-shift basement range. He's often treat us both to meals in nice restaurants as well. As I once commented to Joe, "he's a walking encyclopedia"! Joe and I were always interested in science and were always asking Wynne questions. And I can't remember a single instance when his reply was "I don't know."

He was just a very cool old guy and I enjoyed his company very much. We used to marvel that he was still riding a motorcycle at the age of 70! I haven't seen him in many years but I'm very happy to hear he's doing well. Thanks Wynne!

jeffrb said...

I enjoyed reading your comments about Wynne. I too consider Wynne as one of my personnel heros. Like you I knew Wynne while I was in High School and I have fond memories of his help and generosity. He had a vast knowledge about many things beyond electronics and of course I remember his motorcycle. I remember him visiting me every now and then while on his way home from work to see how I was getting along with my ham radio hobby. I will never forget Wynne W2LDK.