The Puyallup Valley Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2224 will pay special tribute to one of Puyallup’s most decorated — but largely forgotten — World War II veterans, 1st Lt. Victor Leonard Kandle, during a ceremony at 1 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Pavilion at Pioneer Park.
Kandle was killed in battle in 1944 and awarded posthumously the Medal of Honor, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
The recognition will serve as the centerpiece to the VFW’s annual Veterans Day program.
“The Medal of Honor was presented to his widow in 1945,” said Jack Taylor, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, who, along with Larry Heires, past VFW Post commander, has coordinated the program for the past several years. “(Kandle’s) son Terry was 3 years old at the time. Terry got the Medal of Honor and citations from his mother, who passed away this last spring. He will have these on display at the pavilion.”
Kandle was a 1939 Puyallup High School graduate. He joined the U.S. Army in September 1940, and trained at Fort Lewis. His infantry unit led the assault on Anzio, Italy in March of 1944, before it was transferred to France. It was in France that Kandle later perished. The French government posthumously awarded Kandle the Croix de Guerre, a decoration commonly bestowed on foreign military forces allied to France.
“What is a tragedy is he was killed from a white phosphorous grenade or rocket,” Taylor said. “When he was killed, he was hastily buried, and when they recovered his remains the phosphorous reignited and destroyed his body.”
Kandle’s remains were buried at the American Cemetery and Memorial in Epinal, France.
If (Victor Leonard Kandle) had come back and survived, he would have risen to be one of the well-known Puyallup residents. What is tragic is there are no remains of him here. There is nothing in the community to remember him by. No grave.
Jack Taylor, past VFW Post 2224 commander
“If he had come back and survived, he would have risen to be one of the well-known Puyallup residents,” Taylor said. “What is tragic is there are no remains of him here. There is nothing in the community to remember him by. No grave.”
Taylor, Heires and others are hoping that someday the VFW, along with the city of Puyallup and Kandle’s son, will find some way to memorialize Kandle’s memory.
“Many proposals are out there, but none on record,” Taylor said.
In addition to Kandle’s Medal of Honor on display during the program, there will also be on display military artifacts and memorabilia representing World War I, II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, from four local collectors. Alice Miller will also display her collection of military women’s uniforms dating back to the early 1900s.
Congressman Denny Heck, representing Washington state’s 10th District, will give a keynote address. Heck, as a member of several Congressional caucuses, is an advocate and supporter of military programs and initiatives.
The Puyallup Valley Community Band will entertain the audience with patriotic and popular music of the 1940s and 1950s.
Taylor and Heires said they’re always pleased to see a nice representation of young families during the program.
“We expect 500-plus (people),” Taylor said. “One of the gratifying things is seeing it become a big production. We’ve been able to have wonderful musical units and wonderful guest speakers.”