Keeping History Alive on Mercer Island  

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Mercer Island Historical Society

Founded 1954

Keeping History Alive on Mercer Island

A Washington State Non-profit Charitable organization with 501(c)(3) status.

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"Dawn on the Island"

A Video of Interviews about early Mercer Island

In Honor of Fallen Heroes

The Grand Army of the Republic first observed "Decoration Day" on May 30, 1868, to honor those who fell on the Union side (later extended to Confederates) during the Civil War. The GAR chose late spring so that flowers in bloom could decorate the graves of the heroes. During World War I the holiday evolved into a day to commemorate American military members who died in all wars. In 1971 Congress set the last Monday in May as Memorial Day to ensure a three-day weekend for workers. hosts the complete online honor rolls of Washington state citizens who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Philippine Insurrection, World War I, World War II (including merchant mariners), Korea, Vietnam, Granada, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq. They also maintain online honor rolls of University of Washington students, faculty, and staff killed in World War II and public-safety officers statewide who died in the line of duty.

Thirteen of Washington's 53 Medal of Honor recipients were honored posthumously, having fallen in battle. Here are their stories in memory of their sacrifices:

  • Captain Albert H. Rooks -- Medal awarded in 1942 for commanding the heavy Cruiser USS Houston against much larger and more powerful Japanese naval and air forces. The Houston was sunk in the Sunda Strait, and Captain Rooks was declared lost in action.
  • 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 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 fires.
  • Lieutenant Victor L. Kandle -- Awarded in 1945 for his heroism in Europe. Led attacks on several fortified positions and captured many German soldiers.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 support.
  • 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.
  • Specialist Fourth Class Larry Dahl -- Awarded in 1974 for his heroism in Vietnam. While defending a truck convoy, he jumped on a grenade.
  • Private First Class William Kenzo Nakamura -- Awarded in 2000 for his heroism in Europe during World War II. Died while attacking a machine-gun nest that had pinned down his platoon. Nakamura had been passed over for a Medal of Honor at the time due to his Asian ancestry.

Gather at the Memorial

This year’s Memorial Day Ceremony at Benaroya Hall's Garden of Remembrance in Seattle will start at 10:00 on Monday. Thankfully, no new names were added to the memorial this year.
Benaroya Hall, 200 University St.

Credit: HistoryLink,


"History at your fingertips!"

Thanks to community donations, we have digitized 26 years' worth of the Mercer Island Reporter, accessible for free on-line -- at The years currently digitized--and key-word searchable--are: 1968-1985, 1994, 1995, 1997-2000, 2004, and 2005.

A special thank you to the donors who've contributed to our digitization project thus far: Cyclemates Bike, the Kiwanis Club of Mercer Island, the Mercer Island Rotary Club and the Mercer Island Community Fund. We welcome individuals' donations on our "Donate" page.