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Road sign memorial honors Pfc. Kendle

March 27, 2001

Road sign memorial honors Pfc. Kendle



Greencastle, Pa.

By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

Kendle signPhoto: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

Brothers and sisters of Pfc. Randy Truman Kendle, an 18-year-old Greencastle-area man who died in Vietnam in 1969, stood by, some in tears, as their brother was memorialized with a road sign.

As memorials go it's a token, not even an official road sign. The white sign with blue letters tells motorists they are entering Randy T. Kendle Way.

It says Kendle was born in 1950 and was killed in action in 1969 in Southeast Asia. It also depicts his Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

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Just above Kendle's sign is the usual green PennDot sign with the road's official name of Rice Hollow Road, which juts north off Pa. 416 west of the village of Nova.

To Kendle's 14 surviving siblings the little white sign is as significant as the black wall in Washington, D.C., that lists the names of the 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam.

Kendle was born Oct. 24, 1950. He died May 12, 1969.

He was the youngest son among Albert and Mary Kendle's 16 children. All were reared on the Kendle family farm on Rice Hollow Road. One other brother has passed on.

Kendle had been in Vietnam for only a few weeks when he was killed.

The Kendle family learned details of their brother's death when four of his platoon buddies visited the family in November 1997.

The buddies were David Cassel, 53, of Southside, W.Va.; Michael Robbins, 50, of River Ridge, La.; Ome Moynes of Detroit, and Barry Leffler of Toano, Va.

Robbins said he and Kendle were best buddies.

"We were both 18, the youngest guys in the outfit," Robbins said.

According to Robbins and Cassel, Kendle was a member of a tank crew. On the day he died his platoon was sent on patrol, but he stayed behind because his tank had mechanical problems. Later his tank crew volunteered to join a platoon that was sent out to help another platoon that was in a fierce firefight, Cassel said.

According to Robbins, Kendle and two crew members were sitting on top of the tank when it was hit by a Vietcong rocket. He was badly wounded and died later. The other crew members were killed instantly, Robbins said.

That same day Kendle's buddies put his body on an armored personnel carrier, but it, too, was hit by an enemy rocket. The vehicle was carrying ammunition and explosives, Cassel said.

The next day, Kendle's remains were put on another armored personnel carrier and it was blown up by a mine.

"Randy was killed three times," Robbins said.

Family members said the only remains that the Army sent back to bury were dog tags and a few bones. They were buried in Parklawns Memorial Gardens and Mausoleum in Chambersburg, Pa.

Robbins said he and Kendle made a pact that if either one was killed the survivor would visit the other's family.

He said he hadn't known where Kendle lived until Leffler called one day and asked if he wanted to go to a reunion the old outfit was planning at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.

"Somehow Leffler found out where the family lived," Robbins said. "I only knew it was up north some place."

"I knew that I couldn't go to the wall until I met with Randy's family. I had been trying for all those years to keep that promise," Robbins said. "Meeting the family was closure for them and for me too."

"It took his buddies 28 years to get here" said Dorothy Black, 72, Kendle's oldest sister.

Albert Kendle, an older brother, led the effort to have the sign installed. He said Tuesday at the ceremony that the sign stands not only for his brother, but for all those from Franklin County who died in the service of their country.

Greencastle Mayor Frank Mowen read the names of the 28 men from Franklin County who died in Vietnam.

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