Seventy years ago, Lt. Victor Leonard Kandle left Puyallup High School as a 1939 graduate.
This month, he returned — in the form of a memorial in his name.
“In a sense, Leonard Kandle is finally home,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2224 spokesman Jack Taylor at the dedication ceremony on Friday. “You’re not forgotten. Welcome home, Leonard.”
Family, friends, school district leaders and legislators gathered at Puyallup High School to dedicate the memorial, which shows a photo of Kandle and shares his story.
To many, Kandle’s story was largely forgotten.
After graduating from PHS in 1939, he enlisted in the military and served during World War II.
Kandle was killed in battle on December 24, 1944 and was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously in May 1945. Kandle was also awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Croix de Guerre France and the Purple Heart.
“Although the Puyallup community mourned him at the time of his death, there’s no lasting marker, monument or any mention of him anywhere in the city he loved and hoped to return to after the war,” Taylor said.
The Puyallup VFW realized that needed to change after reading his name every year at the annual Memorial Day Observance Celebration.
Last year, the Puyallup School Board approved construction of the memorial outside PHS.
Kandle’s family, including his son, Terry, and grandson, Victor, attended the ceremony on Friday.
Terry Kandle shared that he found hundreds of letters from Kandle while cleaning out his mom’s basement. The letters showed that Kandle was looking forward to coming home after the war.
“It is my fathers hope as it is mine, that Leonard’s example will inspire students of Puyallup High School to follow their dreams with such determination that success can not be denied,” said grandson Victor Kandle.
The memorial is long overdue, Taylor said.
Now, the VFW is working to raise money to place a memorial at Rogers High School to commemorate Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer II, who received the Medal of Honor in October for his service in Afghanistan. He graduated from Rogers in 1997.