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JBLM Street Dedications

Streets renamed for three Medal of Honor recipients

Northwest Guardian

Published: 02:45PM September 7th, 2017

Three Medal of Honor recipients from the World War II era were honored with street dedications between 2nd and 3rd Division drives of Lewis Main Aug. 31 on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. A ceremony took place to memorialize 1st Lt. Arnold Bjorklund, Col. Orville Bloch and 1st Lt. Victor Kandle.

For Kandle’s family, dedicating Kandle Avenue represents a homecoming of sorts. The lieutenant was born on his grandmother’s homestead near Roy in 1921. That property became part of JBLM in 1941 as part of the land acquisition for the Rainier Training Area.

“It seemed very appropriate,” said Terry Kandle, the lieutenant’s son.

Kandle was awarded the Medal of Honor May 5, 1945, for leading a charge Oct. 9, 1944, that destroyed three enemy strongholds and numerous enemy positions that prevented U.S. offensive attacks by his regiment. Kandle’s group also captured nearly 60 enemy officers and enlisted soldiers.

Kandle died Dec. 31, 1944, after an enemy grenade struck a tank he was riding on. Although he’s heard the stories of his father numerous times, Terry Kandle remains a proud son.

“I guess every time I hear the stories, it’s humbling to me,” he said. “I don’t think I could have done it.”

Bloch’s dedication came from his time during the Italian Campaign in World War II. On Feb. 20, 1942, with only three other Soldiers, Bloch was able to destroy three German machine gun nests and captured 70 members of enemy forces.

It was quite an achievement for someone who was initially turned down for an Army commission because he was considered too short at 5 feet 3 inches. Nonetheless, Bloch enlisted as a private in 1942. He completed officer candidate school and was a second lieutenant by the time he went overseas.

Bloch worked as a career officer until he retired in 1970; he passed away in 1983.

“I’m just so grateful that after 33 years since his death, if he was alive, he would be pleased,” said daughter Rae Bloch Wardle.

Bjorklund was awarded the Medal of Honor Aug. 20, 1944, after his actions Sept. 13, 1943, in Altavilla, Italy, were deemed heroic. His platoon was trapped while approaching enemy defenses along the beaches of Salerno, Italy. Bjorklund charged the enemy’s artillery positions and destroyed them via grenades, allowing his platoon to overtake the area.

Bjorklund was unscathed, but he was wounded three days later, suffering 16 wounds. He spent eight months at an Army hospital in Walla Walla, Wash, where he met his wife. They were married at the hospital in 1945.

His son, Kent Bjorklund, and daughter, Samantha Bain, said he likely would have felt others deserved the street dedication more — just like when he received the Medal of Honor.

“He always said ‘You did what you had to do,’” Samantha Bain said.

Each dedicated street sign was unveiled with the help of family members. The ceremony took place on the newly-dedicated Bloch Drive. Bjorklund Avenue, Bloch Drive and Kandle Avenue were recently created as part of the construction of several buildings for the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade.

Afterward, a reception took place at the Raptor’s Nest Dining Facility. Refreshments were served while families and guests viewed memorabilia from World War II.

“These streets will serve as an inspiration to the service members who will walk these streets over the next 100 years,” said Col. Nicole Lucas, JBLM garrison commander. “They will remind us what it means to selflessly serve.”

Dean Siemon: 253-477-0235, @deansiemon