WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, applauded the Senate passage of her legislation to rename the Spokane VA Medical Center the “Mann-Grandstaff Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center” in honor of Private First Class Joe E. Mann (born in Reardan, WA) and Platoon Sergeant Bruce A. Grandstaff (born in Spokane, WA).
"Private First Class Mann and Platoon Sergeant Grandstaff gave their lives for their fellow soldiers and their country,” said Chairman Murray. “Their selfless actions during World War II and the Vietnam War, respectively, earned them the Congressional Medal of Honor, our nation's highest military decoration. It is important we remember those, like these two heroes, who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I am proud the VA Medical Center in Spokane will bear their names.”
Private First Class Mann served in the 101st Airborne Division during World War II. While attempting to seize the bridge across the Wilhelmina Canal, his platoon was isolated, surrounded, and outnumbered by enemy forces. Despite heavy enemy fire, he bravely advanced to within rocket-launching range of the enemy as the lead scout. Private Mann was wounded four separate times while destroying an enemy artillery position near Best, Holland. Despite his wounds, he volunteered to stay on sentry duty that night with both his arms bandaged to his body. The following day when the final assault came, an enemy grenade was thrown in his vicinity. Unable to throw it to safety due to his wounds and bandages, Private Mann threw himself on the grenade, sacrificing his life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers.
Platoon Sergeant Bruce A. Grandstaff served in the 4th Infantry Division. While leading a reconnaissance mission near the Cambodian border, Sergeant Grandstaff’s platoon was ambushed by heavy automatic weapons and small arms fire from three directions. He ran through enemy fire to rescue his wounded men, but was only able to save one. Twice he crawled outside the safety of his unit’s position to mark their location with smoke grenades for aerial fire support, and twice he was wounded. His second marker successfully notified the helicopter gunships of his location, but drew even more enemy fire. Seeing the enemy assault about to overrun his position, Sergeant Grandstaff inspired his remaining men to continue the fight against enemy forces. He called in an artillery barrage on himself to thwart the enemy forces, and continued to fight until he was finally and mortally wounded by an enemy rocket. Although every man in his unit was a casualty, survivors testified that his spirit and courage inspired the unit to inflict heavy casualties on the assaulting enemy even though the odds were stacked against them.
Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.