We celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May — it’s on the 26th this year.
It is time to remember those young people of our community who went off to fight our wars and did not come home. In Puyallup, we have two places to help us remember, one with names and one without.
The War Memorial Building sits in Greyland Park, only half the park it used to be before the bypass cut the ball field in half. That building was funded by public subscription in the early 1950s to commemorate the boys who didn’t come home.
A handful of years ago, we also erected a statue in Pioneer Park to honor the war dead. Among the names on the commemorative plaque is that of Lt. Victor Leonard Kandle, our Medal of Honor recipient. Also there is the name of Lt. Edward J. Myers. The American Battle Monuments Commission carries his full listing as:
Edward J Myers
1st Lt. US Army
Svc # 0554353
Co K, 417th Inf Regt, 76th Inf Div
Died Mar 1 1945
Buried Plot E, Row 3, Grave 21
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Awards: Purple Heart
Myers graduated from Puyallup High School in 1940 and was the quarterback of the football team. He interrupted his studies at Washington State College to join the Army, and was made a rifle platoon leader. The Historical Society recently acquired several items from Lt. Myers’ family. Among them were his Purple Heart medal, and his last letter home. Dated 18 February 1945, Germany, the letter reads:
Just back from ten days in the front lines. We went thru hell.-Lost half the company, all but two officers.-I’m acting company commander now, but hope we get a new one before long, as I don’t like the job.
We’ll write more tomorrow just wanted to let you know I’m still ok – Lost about 30 pounds in the ten days. Going to get some well needed sleep.
Love, your son
Myers’ unit was involved in the Battle of the Bulge and was pushing on into Germany. In 1989, one of his fellow lieutenants recounted to journalist Bill Moyers, while standing in front of Myers’ cross in the Luxembourg Cemetery: “He’s from the state of Washington, Puyallup, Washington, March 1, 1945. That was the same day I was wounded. He was behind me probably a hundred yards, maybe 200 yards, and he caught a piece of mortar fragment in the stomach, lived until that night. I didn’t know he’d died until a couple of days later. ... He was very brave and his men liked him because he took care of them probably better than any other officer and his men in the company ... He was younger than I. He was 21, but he made first lieutenant and I was still a second lieutenant. Hence, he was my company commander on this day. When we got through with the action on that day, in the middle of the night I learned I had a new company commander and I didn’t know him well. I’d seen him once. And then I didn’t get to think about Eddie very much, because my wound hurt, I was exhausted, we’d bedded down in a house and later that night we had to capture the high ground outside of Welschbillig. And the next day was full of combat and we killed a lot of Germans with artillery.”
Rest in peace, Lt. Myers.Andy Anderson is the historian for the Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion. You can contact him through the Mansion at 253-848-1770.