May 21, 2014 – May 27, 2014
This week HistoryLink is proud to present our set of essays about Medal of Honor recipients from Washington and their heroic efforts in the service of our country. To familiarize yourself with their endeavors, we invite you to look over a three-part overview of the recipients, covering first the Civil War to the early twentieth century, then World War I and World War II, and finally those who fought in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Our thanks go out to HistoryLink Contributing Historian Duane Colt Denfeld, Ph.D., for giving us a glimpse into the lives of these Washington men of valor. We urge you to read each recipient's essay, and for Memorial Day we highlight eleven who fell in battle and were honored posthumously.
- Coast Guard Signalman Douglas Albert Munro -- Medal awarded in 1943 for his heroism at Guadalcanal. Volunteered to use landing craft under his command as shields to recover wounded Marines, saving hundreds before his death under fire.
- Boatswain's Mate Reinhardt J. Keppler -- Awarded in 1943 for his heroism at Guadalcanal. Despite serious wounds, he kept pulling other wounded crew to safety, and died saving shipmates.
- Private First Class Richard B. Anderson -- Awarded in 1944 for his heroism in the Pacific. He jumped on a live grenade to protect fellow Marines.
- Staff Sergeant Jack J. Pendleton -- Awarded in 1945 for his service in Europe. Volunteered to lead his squad in an attack against an enemy machine gun, and died under fire while moving ahead of his troops.
- Lieutenant Victor L. Kandle -- Awarded in 1945 for his heroism in Europe. Led attacks on several fortified positions and captured many German soldiers. Two months later he was killed in action.
- Private First Class Joe E. Mann -- Awarded in 1945 for his heroism in Europe. He single-handedly destroyed an enemy position, was wounded, but continued attacking. The next day during an attack he jumped on a grenade to save his comrades.
- Construction Mechanic Third Class Marvin G. Shields -- Awarded in 1966 for his heroism in Vietnam. Wounded during an ambush, he persevered to carry ammunition, recover a wounded comrade, and help destroy an enemy machine gun before dying in battle.
- Private First Class Lewis Albanese -- Awarded in 1968 for his heroism in Vietnam. When his unit came under intense fire he charged the enemy position and engaged in hand-to-hand combat, killing a number of enemy before dying of his wounds the next day.
- Platoon Sergeant Bruce Alan Grandstaff -- Awarded in 1969 for his heroism in Vietnam. Braved enemy fire to save wounded soldiers and call in artillery and gunship fire.
- Second Lieutenant Robert Ronald Leisy -- Awarded in 1971 for his heroism in Vietnam. Used his body to shield a fellow soldier from the blast of a rifle-propelled grenade. Seriously wounded, he refused medical care until others were treated.
- Specialist Fourth Class Larry Dahl -- Awarded in 1974 for his heroism in Vietnam. While defending a truck convoy, he jumped on a grenade, saving nearby soldiers.
And lest we forget, HistoryLink.org maintains comprehensive online honor rolls of Washingtonians who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Philippines, World War I, World War II (including merchant mariners), Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.
News Then, History Now
Two Incorporations: One hundred and twenty-five years ago this week, Hoquiam incorporated on May 21, 1890. Three days later Davenport, in Lincoln County, reincorporated after losing its incorporation status following Washington's statehood.
Teddy's Destinations: On May 22, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt made Chehalis the first stop of a whirlwind tour through the state. The next day in Seattle he signed in as the inaugural guest at the Washington Hotel atop Denny Hill and visited Fort Lawton. Two days later he briefly visited North Yakima before heading off to Walla Walla, where he spoke at Whitman College.
Waters Transform: On May 27, 1905, the Burlingame Gardena irrigation ditch was completed, 12 years after construction began on it and another Walla Walla Valley irrigation project, the Old Lowden Ditch. Marcus Whitman was the first person to bring irrigation water to the valley in the 1830s, but his efforts died with him in 1847.
Seeking Reform: On May 23, 1910, a small group of civic leaders and reformers founded the Municipal League of Seattle (later King County) to promote honest government, which wasn't always the rule at the time. One of the League's first accomplishments was advocating for creation of the Port of Seattle. Over subsequent decades, the Muni League found plenty of muck to rake and led bipartisan progressive pushes for numerous reforms and public enterprises, such as City Light. Following World War II, League visionaries like Ben Ehrlichman and Jim Ellis led successful regional campaigns for Metro, Forward Thrust, and a Home Rule Charter for King County.
Crime Doesn't Pay: Eighty years ago this week, on May 24, 1935, 9-year-old George Weyerhaeuser, heir to the world's largest producer of lumber, was kidnapped on his way home from school in Tacoma. After a $200,000 ransom was paid, the boy was released unharmed, setting off the largest manhunt in Northwest history for the criminals. Arrests were quickly made, but it took more than a year for the FBI to track down the ringleader.
Closed for the Day: On May 23, 1991, the town of Forks shut down when its citizens traveled en masse to Olympia to protest critical-habitat protections for the northern spotted owl. Three years later, Federal District Court Judge William L. Dwyer upheld the federal spotted owl management plan in a key National Environmental Policy Act court decision.
Quote of the Week
A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.
Image of the Week
On May 22, 1931, the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries opened its main Pacific research laboratory, now known as NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center, in Seattle.