Rafael Angel Candelario
December 16, 1945 – June 3, 2019
Sergeant Major Rafael A. Candelario, age 73, of Plant City, FL passed away on Monday, June 3, 2019. He was born on December 16, 1945 in Sabana Seca, Puerto Rico, the son of Providencia Rodriguez and Domingo Candelario.
Upon graduation from Dewitt Clinton High School (Bronx, New York) in June of 1964, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.
Upon completion of recruit training and ITR, he was assigned to Alpha Company 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. He was reassigned to Golf Company 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, and deployed to Vietnam in July of 1965 holding billets of team and squad leader.
Returning stateside, he was assigned to Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division as an instructor at Counter Guerrilla Warfare School.
In 1967, Sergeant Candelario was reassigned to Drill Instructor School (MCRD - Parris Island, South Carolina). Upon graduation, he was assigned to duty with Alpha Company 1st Recruit Training Battalion. While a Drill Instructor, Sergeant Candelario attended and graduated from the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Academy (Quantico, Virginia).
In May of 1968, he again deployed to Vietnam where he joined Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines where he served as Platoon Sergeant and Platoon Commander. During this tour, he received a Meritorious Combat promotion to Staff Sergeant and earned both the Silver Star Medal and Purple Heart Medal, and a recommendation for a meritorious combat commission.
He was assigned to Regimental Headquarters and assumed duties as the coordinator of all incoming and outgoing troops and supplies from An Hoa Combat Base. In February of 1970, Staff Sergeant Candelario returned CONUS and was assigned to Marine Corps Supply Center (Barstow, California). There he was the center’s Physical Fitness Instructor.
In April of 1971, Candelario was commissioned a Second Lieutenant (TEMP) and appointed as the Executive Officer Headquarters Company, Headquarters Battalion and then assumed command of Headquarters Company.
1971, he was assigned to 2nd Marine Division and served with Charlie Company 1st Battalion, 8th Marines and Mike Company 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines. While with these units, Lieutenant Candelario served as Platoon Commander and Executive Officer. Upon notification to revert to the enlisted ranks, he was assigned to the Camp Lejeune Rifle Range as the Charlie Range Officer in Charge.
In 1973, Candelario reverted to Staff Sergeant and was assigned the primary military occupational specialty of 5800, Military Police. He reported to Security Battalion, Marine Corps Base (Quantico, Virginia). Assigned to the Correctional Facility, he became a 5834, Assistant Brig Warden. He attended and completed the US Army Military Police School for Corrections Advanced Course (Fort Gordon, Georgia). Joining Officer Candidate School as a Drill Instructor, he was Platoon Sergeant and was meritoriously promoted to Gunnery Sergeant in December of 1974.
Gunnery Sergeant Candelario reported to the United States Army Military Police School at Fort McClellan (Anniston, Alabama) where he served as an Instructor for the Department of Advanced Law Enforcement Corrections. Gunnery Sergeant Candelario reported to Recruiters School (MCRD - San Diego, California) and upon graduation, reported to the 6th Marine Corps District and served as a recruiter at RSS (Montgomery, Alabama).
Upon selection to First Sergeant, he was reassigned to Marine Barracks, Roosevelt Roads (Puerto Rico) for duty as the Barracks First Sergeant in 1980. In 1983, First Sergeant Candelario reported to the Second Marine Division and served as the First Sergeant, India Battery 3rd Battalion, 10th Marines. Upon selection to Sergeant Major in 1984, he was assigned Sergeant Major in 1st Battalion, 10th Marines, 2nd Marine Division.
He was transferred and served as Squadron Sergeant Major for Marine Air Control Squadron 4, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (Okinawa, Japan). In June of 1986, Sergeant Major Candelario was assigned to duty with Inspector Instructor Staff, 4th Maintenance Battalion, 4th Force Service Support Group.
In April of 1989, Sergeant Major Candelario assumed the duties as Sergeant Major, Officer Candidates School, Marine Corps Combat Development Command (Quantico, Virginia). He was transferred overseas and assigned as the Sergeant Major for 3rd Force Service Support Group. Sergeant Major Candelario assumed duties as Sergeant Major, III Marine Expeditionary Force/Marine Corps Bases (Japan) on 30 April 1992.
Sergeant Major Candelario wears the following decorations: Silver Star Medal, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, Navy Commendation Medal with Gold Star, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal (8th Award), and various unit and service campaign awards. One of the Sergeant Major’s sons, Lieutenant Colonel Rafael Candelario has served in two of his units: 3D FSSG and Acting Regimental Commander, 5th Marine Regiment.
Sergeant Major Candelario retired from active service after 30 years on 01 October 1994. In 1995, Sergeant Major Candelario accepted a position as an Associate Naval Science instructor with the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at Leto High School (Tampa, Florida) where he served for 16 years.
He was the President of the Hillsborough County Veteran’s Council, the Sr. Vice of the Military Order of Purple Heart, Chapter 807, Tampa, the Senior Vice of the Marine Corps League DET 056 A. R. GOSS Tampa, a member of the American Legion, a member of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation Committee, Tampa and a member of the Montford Point Marines, Philadelphia Chapter 1. He was a faithful catholic and a member of Nativity Catholic Church in Brandon.
He was preceded in death by son Schuval Candelario. He is survived by his wife, Laurel Candelario, sister, Iris Rodriguez (Nelson), children Jeahne Renee’ Spann (LaMar), Pamela Cuffee, Sharron Ivy Spann, Rafael A. H. Candelario (Janice), Dominic Candelario (Amanda), Lindsay Ritenbaugh, Kirsten Snively (Joel), Joseph Taylor (Amanda), 13 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:00 a.m., Monday, June 24, 2019 at Nativity Catholic Church, 705 E Brandon Blvd, Brandon, FL.Visitation will be held from 2:00-5:00 p.m., Sunday, June 23, 2019 at Stowers Funeral Home, 401 W Brandon Blvd, Brandon, FL. Interment will be held in Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, tax deductible donations can be made to the Sergeant Major Rafael Candelario Veteran’s Education Fund C/O Tampa Workforce Development P.O. Box 130303, Tampa, FL 33681.
2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Stowers Funeral Home
401 W Brandon Blvd
Mass of Christian Burial
10:00 am - 11:00 am
Nativity Catholic Church
705 E Brandon Blvd
Rafael Angel Candelario
Jose & Sarah Lopez
June 11, 2019
On June 7, 1985 we celebrated our wedding at his house, while he was in the field. Always a true friend. Will be missed by many. RIP SEMPER FI CANDYMAN.....
June 11, 2019
I heard of the "Candyman" way before we got an opportunity to met. I looked up to him when I was on active duty and was fortunate to call him a friend since my retirement in 2001. When Candyman was having issues reconnecting with the Montford Pointers, he called me. I told him if he were to connect with the Philadelphia Chapter, I would make sure he was kept informed on what was happening within the Association. He next wanted do me sure he was in the proper uniform so again I made sure he received his Montford Point cover. Now he was ready to go to work. Candyman coordinated and co officiated a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in Tampa. Once Candyman got involved in ANY mission, he wanted to see it through. One of my last communications with him was about 2 weeks before he died, he wanted to make sure his monies for our annual raffle were received. That is classic Candyman, nearing his own death but checking on others. Wouldn't it be something if his name was pulled on August30th. I probably would not be able to hold it together. Rest easy Sergeant Major, you've taught us all how to stand the watch. Semper Fidelis!!
Martin Ortega Jr.
June 7, 2019
It is always tough losing a mentor and a friend. This man I met him when I was a young boot PFC in the 1990s. Only to meet him again right soon after I retired here in Florida. He was the person who introduced me to the Marine Corps League. To any person who knew him, he was the consumate professional all the time. School kept me away from my detachment and the plans and visions he had for me within the detachment, and I didnt get to see him as often as I did when i was newly retired. I thought his treatment was working but that dreaded C word has taken him from us. There isnt a person he has come in contact with that he didnt have a positive effect in some form. I will miss you my brother, mentor and friend. God has gained a warrior a Sergeant Major to maintain the personnel of the Battalion in the Heavens. Semper Fi and RIP Sergeant Major Rafael Candelario.
June 7, 2019
In the absence of my son Schuval Candelario, I send my condolences to the entire family of Sgt. Major Candelario. May the days ahead get brighter for each and everyone of you. Remember God will never leave you.
June 6, 2019
There are no words to describe what Sgt Maj Candelario meant and means to me. I was blessed to have been a student of his in ROTC and I can definitively say that God put him in my adolescent path at the perfect time. In many ways he was like a 2nd father to me and many others who crossed his path as students. Thanks to him I learned the most valuable lessons on professionalism, honor, respect, discipline, courage, and above all leadership that I will carry forward in my soul for eternity.
It was in large part due to his influence and example that I was able to find the strength within myself and use his teachings to maximize what God gave me to earn an appointment and eventually graduate from West Point and follow somewhat in his footsteps in serving my Country in combat. I will tell you that there were many times whether in the grey dreary snow-bound cold of West Point, or in the scorching heat of Baghdad where his words and the significance of what he imparted upon me gave me great strength to weather the storms, get up and keep fighting no matter the odds. As he would tell me, "Never quit!"
America has lost one hell of a Marine, and I've lost a mentor and a pillar upon which so much of my life was established. The only solace I have is the knowledge that now Sgt Maj is resting and his influence and example will live on not only in me personally, but countless others. There is no way in this world and in this life that I can adequately express my gratitude for all Sgt Maj has done for me and what he represents, but perhaps one day in God's perfect way I will be able to do so.
Thank you Sgt Maj for everything you given to our Country, to our community, and to this lowly student of yours. I'd follow you to battle any day!
June 6, 2019