ELKO — A guardsman who had battled cancer since September died June 13, his wife said.
James Chandler, a member of the Nevada Army National Guard, was promoted May 22 to captain — an honor he had thought might only be realized after death.
Even in the throes of terminal cancer, he embodied perseverance. Chandler’s service is scheduled 1 p.m. June 29 at Burn’s Funeral Home.
Chandler fell in and out of consciousness in the weeks leading up to his death. On the day he died, he awoke for a while and said something his wife, Susan, had heard him say often.
“Friday, when he was awake, that was one of the things he said, ‘Never quit fighting. Never,’” she said.
Susan Chandler had watched her husband during his painful bout with cancer fight to live, which she said surpassed the expectations of hospice care workers.
“He did not want to go. He fought and fought and fought,” she said. “…(He’s) a very strong willed man in a very beautiful way.”
James Chandler underwent chemotherapy and radiation over the course of months in Salt Lake City, but the treatment didn’t stop the disease. Susan Chandler said her husband received great hospice care but his cancer had spread throughout his body and the medication only helped alleviate some of the pain.
Less than a week after his promotion, Chandler was unable to leave his bed. He slipped into a coma about six days later. But on June 6, he came out of it and spent time with his children.
“(He) watched our kids make some cookies,” Susan Chandler said. “On Saturday he went to (his son) Hunter’s last T-ball game.”
Susan Chandler said it was a special 24-hour period, before he went into a coma again.
James Chandler was a combat engineer, or sapper, in the 609th Engineer Company of the Nevada National Guard in Fallon — a unit he had described as tight-knit. He used to repeat the mantra “EFNQ” — Everyone Fights. Nobody Quits.
Chandler had said the support he received from his unit boosted his spirit. Friends used to text Chandler daily; fellow guardsmen took time to visit him when he was in Salt Lake City.
“Each and every one of those men promised him that they will be here for his family, permanently. I cannot describe the bond they had,” Susan Chandler said. “… The support we have is phenomenal.”
Lt. Col. Wilson DaSilva of the 17th Sustainment Brigade called it an honor to be a part of Chandler’s promotion ceremony in May.
“I wasn’t expecting him to be in uniform that day,” DaSilva said. “He gave me a very long hug (after he was made captain), and I could feel that he was really overjoyed.”
DaSilva said he was always impressed with Chandler’s composure and positive attitude.
“It’s so easy for someone in his condition to be mad at the world, and he wasn’t like that,” he said. “He knew what was going to happen to him, and he made the best of what he had.
Susan Chandler saw her husband as a gentle warrior. He was in the Army and a cop, but he loved spending time with children and gleaning wisdom from the elderly. He enjoyed riding his dirt bike, taking the family on trips up the canyon, tinkering with Legos and woodworking.
Chandler had been employed as a police officer with the Western Shoshone Department of Public Safety. Police Chief Larry Robb said Chandler was an exemplary cop and an asset to the community he served.
The police department went “above and beyond to take care of James and the family,” his wife said.
Susan Chandler also wanted to acknowledge help her husband received from Dr. Karin Madden, Troy Eden and James Cooper at the Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital.
In lieu of flowers, Chandler wanted people to donate to hospice.
As has been the case through her husband’s ordeal, Susan Chandler expects the Nevada National Guard will make a show of support at the funeral.
Chandler and his wife have five children: Stephanie, Michelle, Kendall, James and Hunter.