It was the first time that the retired lumber salesman and Runnemede resident had seen it.
My sister ``probably didn't know what it was,'' Renshaw said. ``She just squirreled stuff away.''
Two days after finding the envelope, Renshaw showed the letter to his daughter Karen and son-in-law Jim Sipple, not thinking much of his discovery.
``All I was doing was my job,'' Renshaw told them about his war service. ``At the time, if you didn't get [a medal], it wasn't a big deal.''
The Sipples thought otherwise.
``We saw the letter and these lightbulbs went off,'' Karen Sipple said.
Without telling Renshaw, the Sipples began a 14-month quest to have the Marine Corps make good on its promise. They contacted U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D., N.J.), who put the Blackwood couple in touch with the Marine Corps' Military Awards Branch in Washington.
But the Marines wanted more proof than the letter.
So Jim Sipple copied 40 pages of Renshaw's flight book and sent them to Washington. In late August, after the Marines checked Renshaw's military records, Sipple learned that his father-in-law would get a medal.
On Saturday, 50 years after the Marines notified Renshaw of the Air Medal, he was awarded not just one but four, along with the Distinguished Flying Cross. The medals are awarded for heroic action in combat, said H.R. Smith, acting head of the Marines' Military Awards Branch.
Standing on a podium at the Armed Forces Reserve Training Center in Northeast Philadelphia and flanked by Marine representatives, Renshaw, who turned 78 on Friday, accepted the medals.
He was joined at the ceremony by his five children, 12 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild, as well as 100 camouflage-clad Marine reservists standing in formation. Renshaw's grandson Matthew, also a Marine, helped present the medals.
During the war, Renshaw flew 46 combat missions in an SBD Dauntless. He dive-bombed airfields and antiaircraft guns on Rabaul Island, near New Guinea, and flew air cover for troops in the Philippines. He was never hit by enemy fire.
``I was quite fortunate,'' Renshaw said. ``Except getting shot at, I had a ball.''
He enlisted on May 7, 1942, six months after Pearl Harbor, and began flight training at Lehigh University the same year. He learned to fly in a shaky biplane but within a year moved up to the Dauntless. He crashed while training in 1943, but after recuperating for seven months he joined a squadron in the Pacific.
While Renshaw said he was thrilled to receive the medals, he added that he could not help but think about the men he flew with.
``All my buddies deserved this,'' he said. ``Every one was doing the job they needed to do to win the war.''