BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D. The crosses stretched on and on at The U.S. Cemetery at Epinal France. It is one of the American Battlefield Monument Cemetery’s in Europe. Its graves are marked with upright white crosses. There are a few Stars’ of David among them. Amongst the upright crosses there is one that has the following inscription in gold on it “MEDAL of HONOR”. This cross marks the final earthly resting place of Victor L. Kandle, a native of Puyallup, Washington, a town known for its generous citizens.
Kandle was a First Lieutenant in the United States Army during World War II and was assigned to the15th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division. It was a foggy morning on October 9, 1944 when Kandle was leading a recon patrol into enemy territory. His patrol became engaged in a face to face firefight with a German field officer and killed him. The patrol had already taken five prisoners that morning. Kandle went on to lead a reduced platoon through the fog and difficult and dangerous mountain terrain. Kandle and his patrol came to the rear of a German position that had been holding up the advance of the battalion for two days. Quickly moving forward, leaving his platoon behind, Kandle made his way into the enemy’s position. The Germans were so taken back by Kandle’s forcefulness that they surrendered.
During his charge up the mountain side Kandle had in the dense fog bypassed a German machine gun nest. Moving within 15 yards of the position, he destroyed the machine gun position with accurate rifle. From there he quickly moved on to destroy yet another German machine gun position.
Not finished yet, Kandle and his small team began an assault against a house that the Germans had occupied and were using very effectively to stop the American advance. Instructing his men to lay down a base of covering fire Kandle moved through an open yard in clear view of the Germans and broke through a barricaded door. By sheer tenacity and courage he captured 2 German Officers and thirty German enlisted men.
October 9, 1944 turned out to be quite a day for Kandle and his men. Before lunch that day, Kandle’s courage and leadership resulted in the total annihilation of 3 enemy positions (which had until then brought a halt to the battalion attack) and the killing or capturing of three German officers and over 50 enlisted men. Later killed in action, his Medal of Honor was posthumously awarded to him on May 11, 1945.
Kandle’s widow Marigene and his young son Terry were presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor by General H.C. Pratt on June 4, 1945 at the Presidio in San Francisco. Kandle also earned the Purple Heart, Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and the French Croix de Guerre.
The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor To
to KANDLE, VICTOR L.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 15th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near La Forge, France, 9 October 1944. Entered service at: Redwood City, Calif. Birth: Roy, Wash. G.O. No: 37, 11 May 1945.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On 9 October 1944, at about noon, near La Forge, France, 1st Lt. Kandle, while leading a reconnaissance patrol into enemy territory, engaged in a duel at pointblank range with a German field officer and killed him. Having already taken 5 enemy prisoners that morning, he led a skeleton platoon of 16 men, reinforced with a light machinegun squad, through fog and over precipitous mountain terrain to fall on the rear of a German quarry stronghold which had checked the advance of an infantry battalion for 2 days. Rushing forward, several yards ahead of his assault elements, 1st Lt. Kandle fought his way into the heart of the enemy strongpoint, and, by his boldness and audacity, forced the Germans to surrender. Harassed by machinegun fire from a position which he had bypassed in the dense fog, he moved to within 15 yards of the enemy, killed a German machinegunner with accurate rifle fire and led his men in the destruction of another machinegun crew and its rifle security elements. Finally, he led his small force against a fortified house held by 2 German officers and 30 enlisted men. After establishing a base of fire, he rushed forward alone through an open clearing in full view of the enemy, smashed through a barricaded door, and forced all 32 Germans to surrender. His intrepidity and bold leadership resulted in the capture or killing of 3 enemy officers and 54 enlisted men, the destruction of 3 enemy strongpoints, and the seizure of enemy positions which had halted a battalion attack.
1stLt. Victor L. Kandle is buried at the Epinal American Cemetery and Memorial, Epina, Vosges France. He is in plot B, Row14 grave 55