Fallen soldier to be laid to rest Tuesday in Livingston
Polk County Enterprise, April 2007
By VALERIE REDDELL
Special Sections Editor
WASHINGTON — Pfc. Rodney L. McCandless, the second Polk County soldier to be killed in action in Iraq, will be laid to rest at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Livingston, a family spokesperson said Friday.
McCandless died April 7 in Zaganiyah, Iraq, a Defense Department report said.
The soldier’s body was expected to arrive in Livingston accompanied by an Army honor guard Saturday, as of press deadline. Visitation is planned for Sunday at Cochran Funeral Home in Livingston.
Funeral services will be held in the funeral home chapel Tuesday afternoon.
An improvised explosive device detonated near a unit from the 82nd Airborne Division and claimed the lives of four soldiers, including McCandless.
The other soldiers from McCandless’ unit killed in the blast were Capt. Jonathan D. Grassbaugh, 25, of East Hempstead, N.H.; Spc. Ebe F. Emolo 33, of Greensboro, N.C. and Spc. Levi K. Hoover, 23, of Midland, Mich.
A total of 10 Americans were killed in action over the Easter weekend, heaviest losses since the beginning of President George W. Bush’s escalation of action in Iraq.
The paratrooper is survived by numerous family members in Polk County.
His parents are Lynn McCandless and Rhonda McCandless of Leggett. He is also survived by a sister, Chastity McCandless and two brothers, Ron and James Sumner.
McCandless had just returned to Iraq the previous week after a two-week leave which included a visit with his grandparents in southwestern Arkansas, a family spokesperson said.
“Specialist McCandless was an inspiration to all who knew him,” said Capt. John Carson, 5th Sqd. 73rd Cav. Rear Detachment commander in Arkansas media reports. Army records listed an Arkansas address as his permanent address.
“The success and achievements our Squadron has endured over the past few weeks has not been easy or cheap, and we stand indebted to this great man who gave up his life in the service of his country.”
McCandless joined the Army in August 2005. He completed Advanced Individual Training at Fort Lee, Virginia in October 2005.
McCandless completed the Basic Airborne Course in February 2006. He reported to the 82nd Airborne Division in April 2006 and was assigned to 5th Squad., 73rd Cav. Reg., 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Abn. Div. in December 2006.
“His sacrifice strengthens our resolve to accomplish our difficult mission,” Carson said. “This hero will be sorely missed and will forever live in our memories.”
McCandless’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Combat Action Badge, and the Parachutist’s Badge.