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The Suburbanite
  • WWII: Then and Now: The fighting found him

  • Although William “Bill” Kandray never served in combat during World War II, he paid a price for a conflict that touched the lives of everyone in America.

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  • Although William “Bill” Kandray never served in combat during World War II, he paid a price for a conflict that touched the lives of everyone in America.
    That price was paid with the loss of his brother, an airman.
    “My brother, Steve, was shot down over the Celebes Sea while he was on night patrol. They never found him,” said Kandray. “My mother, she wondered if the Japanese had picked him up. I think she always thought he might come home. She never wanted to give up hope.”
    Kandray had another brother, John, who served stateside during World War II, and a younger brother, Joe, who served during the Korean War.
    “I had a brother-in-law who was killed in a tank on a training mission in Georgia. It went on a bridge and it collapsed. Everybody else got out. He was the last one out and the water came over the top and washed him back down, and he drowned.”
    DRAFTED
    Kandray, who was born in Steubenville and who lives in Alliance, grew up in western Pennsylvania. His father worked in the coal mines. Kandray was drafted in 1944.
    “I was fortunate. I think they sent every 10th guy to the Navy. My buddies went to the Army and had 90 days of combat in Europe.”
    Kandray wanted to be assigned to a PT boat, but the Navy told him those vessels were filled. The military wanted him to go to radio school, but he declined. He was assigned to an attack transport and was about to be shipped overseas in 1945 when the attack transport was damaged and returned to the states.
    “We were loading up (to leave) when we got the word,” he said. “We hung around the shipyard until they fixed her. We had to load her back up and the war ended.”
    AFTER THE WAR
    Kandray married a woman from Pittsburgh, Evelyn Wagner, in 1957. She died in 2009. The couple had six children — Mike, Mark, Bobby, Danny, Stephanie and Lori — and Kandray has 18 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
    After going to a trade school, Kandray worked for years as a carpenter, living in both Columbiana and Mahoning counties. When he retired, he did carpentry work for his children, and a few years ago moved to the home of his daughter, Stephanie, who lives in Alliance.
    “I was never satisfied because I didn’t see action,” he said. “I volunteered three times, but the commodore always said, ‘You’re going to see a lot of action, you don’t want to be in a hurry about it.’ I never got the chance.”
    Then he remembers his brother, Steven, lost in the Celebes Sea.
    “I guess,” he softly says, “I was one of the lucky ones.”