A Celebration of Life service for Bill Kendall, 83, of Jefferson will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, June 15, 2018 at the Greene County High School Auditorium. Military rites and interment will follow at the Jefferson Cemetery.
William LeRoy Kendall was the oldest of nine children born to Otha and Flora (Fister) Kendall on April 21, 1935 in Jefferson, Iowa. Bill was born at home. He passed away at his home on June 9, 2018 in the same block that he was born.
Bill graduated from Jefferson High School in 1954. During his younger years he had always wanted to join the service and make a career out of it. Bill started his military career in August of 1954. After Bill had been assigned to Special Forces and completed jump school at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in March of 1955, Bill returned home in December of 1955 to marry his long-time girlfriend, Barbara Jane Scheffers. From their marriage they had four children: Tony Ray, Curtis Dean, Tracy Lee and Candy Mae Kendall.
He enlisted for Airborne Unassigned (Special Forces) on August 23, 1954 and retired on September 1, 1974. Bill spent all his military service with the Special Forces, Special Operations Group, Special Operations Group Combat Command Central and Regional Readiness Group. He spent five years (1964-1969) in Vietnam with the Special Operations Group in 1964-65 and Special Operations Group Combat Command Central in 1968-69. He worked with long-range reconnaissance teams only. He had 200 missions which included those flown in 1956-57 working on Project White Star in Japan. Bill was First Sergeant in charge of 1,400 students a month at the Jungle Operation Training Center, Fort Sherman, Canal Zone. He was later assigned as First Sergeant of the School of America, Fort Gulick, Canal Zone, where more than 200 Central and South American Army officers and men were trained during each class.
Bill reached the height of his military career while serving as First Sergeant of the Atlantic Area Command from 1971-1973. During this time he was in charge of 3,500 men, and hundreds of civilian personnel. His last assignment prior to retiring was Senior Operation and Intelligence Sergeant of the Region Readiness Group. It was during the latter part of this tour of duty that he was selected for promotion to the highest rank possible as Command Sergeant Major. Bill turned this promotion down so that he could retire into civilian life and devote the remaining years of his life to his family.
During his military career, Bill made over 3,400 parachute jumps, many in Vietnam. He spent four years in (1964-1969) in Vietnam and received 35 medals and awards for valor or service against any enemy force. He also received 28 other awards for peacetime service. Three of his units were presented with the Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an armed enemy in Vietnam. This is the highest award that may be given to a military unit for action against an enemy force.
In 1973 he returned to the United States from Panama and retired from the service in August 1974. He built his home in Jefferson and devoted the rest of his time to his family. In 1977 Bill’s first wife, Barbara Jane, passed away. In 1980, he met Barbara Jean Russell. They were married on February 14, 1981. Together they enjoyed gardening, genealogy, traveling and working on holiday lights. Bill worked at Super Value and G & M Food in Jefferson, and for McLaughin International in Scranton for several years. Bill was also an avid golfer, bowler and enjoyed watching car races.
Bill was an active member of the VFW serving as Commander for several years on the local level. He was also Jr. Vice Commander on the State level. In 2006 he was appointed Inspector General of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a national VFW position. Bill was also a member of the American Legion, the Jefferson Lyons Club, Greene County Genealogy Society, Elks and Masonic Lodge.
Bill worked on the design of the Medal of Honor of Flag to honor Captain Darrell R. Lindsay Medal of Honor Recipient from Jefferson. In June 2002, Congressman, Tom Latham introduced legislation recommending the flag become the official Medal of Honor Flag. It passed 380 votes to 0. Senator Grassley presented the proposal to the Senate where it also was passed. On October 21, 2002, President George Bush signed the bill into law making the Medal of Honor Flag official.
Bill enjoyed living in his community. He was recognized by the school district with being inducted to the Hall of Fame. He often donated his assistance or contributions to various activities within the community.
He was predeceased by his parents; brothers: Charlie, Arlie and Peter; sister, Charlotte; and first wife, Barbara Jane Scheffers.
Bill is survived by his wife, Barb; sons: Tony (Ronda) of Jefferson, Curtis of Norwalk and Tracy (Tina) of Tampa, Fla.; daughter, Candy (Scott) of Norwalk; nine grandchildren: Merinda, Kimberly, AJ, Jamie, Steven, Brandon, Chassidy, Jordyn and Kendall; 11 great grandchildren; siblings: JoAnn (Virgil) Schuett and Diann Earll both of Branson, Mo., Dolly Leatherman of Hollister, Mo. and Robert (Ly) of Junction City, Kan.; sister-in-law, Karen Kendall of Lampe, Mo.; nieces; nephews; other relatives and friends.
Slininger-Schroeder Funeral Home, Jefferson. 515-386-2171.