Wren family serves nation for generations in combat, on the home front

By Nicolo Manzo, Public Affairs SpecialistNovember 8, 2023

Three people pose for a photo in front of a large tablet with a military vehicle on it. The person at center holds a plaque listing the names of Tobyhanna Army Depot's Purple Heart recipients.
Jacob Wren (left), Russell Wren (center) and Richard S. Wren III (right) are carrying on their family's long legacy of service. (Photo Credit: Thomas Robbins) VIEW ORIGINAL

On the shores of Lake Michigan, fresh off his grandson Jacob’s boot camp graduation, Richard S. Wren Sr. knew the time had come to share the things he had seen and endured while serving his nation.

Jacob, or “Butch” as his grandfather affectionately calls him, was about to be the next in a long line of Wrens to serve his nation. Richard S. Wren Sr. earned a Purple Heart when he was wounded by grenade shrapnel in the Korean War. Understandably, he talks little of the harrowing experience, but in this moment the patriarch of the Wren family felt it necessary to make his grandson aware of the realities posed by serving one’s nation.

Jacob Wren holds the conversation, with the man who he and everyone in the family strives to make proud, amongst the most important and meaningful of his life.

“(My grandfather) said ‘You know, Butch, I’m very proud of you, but just know you signed up to go into war, and I’m going to tell you something I’ve never talked to you about,’” said Jacob Wren.

He said the conversation only heightened his already lofty view of his grandfather’s sacrifice.

“That’s when it dawned on me to see the things that he has seen and gone through in his life – he had to come home and live with that without any of us really knowing the effects that caused on him and his life, but he never let that change who he was and how he was in our lives as a grandfather.”

For generations, the Wrens have passed down a tradition of family, hard work and service to one’s nation. Dating all the way back to the Revolutionary War on Jacob’s grandmother's and Richard S. Wren Sr.’s wife, Barbara A. Wren’s, side of the family, that commitment to serving our nation has been proudly passed down. Richard S. Wren Sr. and his son Richard S. Wren Jr. both served their nation in the Army. Largely inspired by their grandfather and father’s Army service, Jacob and his youngest brother, Anthony, served the nation in the Navy. Although an injury prevented Jacob from going to war, Anthony served multiple tours.

Jacob Wren said the opportunity to not only continue his family’s legacy of service but become a part of a shared experience generations of Wrens have known was a surreal one.

“To be a part of something bigger than I am, and to share that with my little brother who was active duty at the time, was incredible. To share that with him and have that brotherhood not just with the Navy but with my brother as well, was incredible.”

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Richard S. Wren Sr.’s service is his unwavering loyalty and dedication to our nation despite the tremendous sacrifices he has made. Once his military career had ended, Richard S. Wren Sr., who had given so much to our nation, asked how he can serve the nation further.

That desire to serve his nation in a civilian capacity led Richard S. Wren Sr. to join the ranks of Team Tobyhanna with a career at Tobyhanna Army Depot (TYAD).

Once again, Richard S. Wren Sr. inspired others in his family to serve their nation, this time on the home front.

Currently, Russell Wren, his nephews Jacob and Richard S. Wren III and their cousin Michael Kosloski all serve amongst the ranks of Team Tobyhanna. They follow in the footsteps of Richard S. Wren Sr. and his son Richard S. Wren Jr., who both counted themselves as members of the civilian workforce.

For Jacob and Richard III, TYAD has been in their blood since childhood. The two not only work at TYAD but lived in Tobyhanna Pines, Army family housing on post, as children.

Much like his brother Jacob, Richard S. Wren III was inspired by his grandfather to serve his nation. Although a medical issue kept him out of the Army, he was determined to etch his name in the long history of the Wren family’s service to the nation.

“Tobyhanna was my second chance to serve my nation. To this day, I have a great deal of passion and pride in working here. It was very important to me to do some sort of service,” said Richard S. Wren III.

Every member of Team Tobyhanna has an added purpose in their work knowing that the work they support will directly benefit our nation’s warfighters, but Richard S. Wren III has a very personal tie to his work.

“My family members were enlisted full-time. They were deployed overseas. So, my family members were using the equipment we were working on. Being able to do things for the veterans and keeping them out of danger makes working at Tobyhanna special. It gives me a good feeling to know I’m helping our service members.”

Each member of the Wren family echoes those sentiments. To them, working at TYAD offers another opportunity to serve their nation through work they take tremendous pride in.

Russell Wren has worked at TYAD for nearly 20 years, ascending to a leadership position. He aspires to make his father proud through his commitment to our nation. The first thing he did when learning he had attained a leadership role was call his father.

“When I was selected for my first leadership position, I took great pride in that. Being able to carry on my father’s legacy is important to me. He has supported and empowered us throughout our lives. I want to make him proud through my work,” said Russell Wren.

Russell Wren considers it a privilege to be a member of Team Tobyhanna.

“Make what you do today matter because you gave up a day of your life to do it. Working at TYAD helps me fulfill that mantra because what we do here at TYAD has a direct impact on the soldiers in the field and saves people’s lives. That is all the motivation I need to come to work every day, and I take great pride in working at TYAD.”

The values of service remain strong in the family, and the next generation may soon be serving the depot.

With a lineage of service dating back to the birth of the nation, one may think that service was the greatest value Richard S. Wren instilled in his children and grandchildren. However, the only value he and his wife impressed more than service was family.

“Growing up we all wanted to be like my grandfather. We all wanted to serve, we all wanted to be like him. His and my grandmother’s relationship – they’re together 65+ years – the foundation they created in our family and imprinted on our lives was important because they taught us that family is everything, and no matter what your family comes first. And I personally think that his time in the military and what he went through helped him develop that skill to just be the greatest family man that you can ever be,” said Jacob Wren.

In a word, Russell Wren and the entire Wren family is grateful to have such a strong role model and example who profoundly touched each of their lives.

“I get emotional when I think of what my father, as a young man, had to endure during his service to our nation. He is the greatest man I have ever had the privilege to know, and I feel the deepest sense of gratitude to be able to call that man Dad,” said Russell Wren.

Through his commitment to service and family, Richard S. Wren has earned the admiration and respect of his family and his nation. The nation thanks the Wren family for their undying allegiance to the U.S. and their tireless dedication to service in support of the ideals we hold dear and the warfighters who courageously protect them every day.

TYAD is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna’s Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C5ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna’s unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, postproduction software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our joint warfighters.

About 3,200 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command’s mission is to empower the Soldier with winning C5ISR capabilities.