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Morton grad, WWII vet honored at school ceremony

Published: Monday, June 16, 2014 3:03 p.m. CDT
(Photo provided)
John Chrenka (right), 93, of Berwyn.
(Photo provided)
John Chrenka, 93, poses in uniform during his military service during World War II in an undated photo. Chrenka, a lifelong Berwyn resident, was one of many veterans honored at a D-Day Commemoration Ceremony in Wheaton June 7.

BERWYN – John Chrenka likes to take walks and yell at baseball players on the TV. At 93 years old, Chrenka, a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, still can’t stand the sting of defeat when they lose a game or make a bad play.

A nine-decade native of Berwyn, Chrenka was a pitcher for the Morton Mustangs during his sophomore year at the school. He attended Morton East for four years, graduating in 1939.

“Loved my time there, my coaches were great and they really pushed us to do our best, they really looked out for us,” Chrenka recalled.

After graduation, Chrenka enlisted. For him, it was never a question of if.

“Didn’t need a reason,” he said. “My country needed me and that was my reason.”

At 22, Chrenka became a soldier in the infantry branch, a division that took part in some of the hardest face-to-face combat of World War II, according to a news release from District 201.

On June 7, Chrenka was honored at a special D-Day Commemoration Ceremony, held in honor of the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, France. The event was held at Cantingy Park in Wheaton, and Chrenka was one of many veterans honored for his service during WWII.

“I’ve got memories that aren’t worth remembering,” he said. “But my service to the military is a memory I will always be proud of.”

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