New name proposed for VA Medical Center

The VA Medical Center in Northwest Spokane would be renamed for two regional recipients of the Medal of Honor under bills proposed by the state’s congressional delegation.

It would be named for Pfc. Joe E. Mann and Platoon Sgt. Bruce Grandstaff, who both received the nation’s highest military medal posthumously.

Mann, a Reardan native, was a member of the 101st Airborne Division during World War II. In 1944, his unit was dropped into the Netherlands assigned to cross the Rhine River into Germany. Near the town of Best, Mann was wounded when he crawled close enough to an enemy artillery emplacement to destroy it with a rocket launcher. After his wounds were treated, he remained with the unit although his arms were bandaged to his body, and during a counterattack he fell backward on a grenade to protect six other wounded soldiers.

Grandstaff, a Spokane native who graduated from North Central High School, led a platoon from the 4th Infantry during the Vietnam War. In 1967, while they were on reconnaissance mission near the Cambodian border, they came under fire from three sides and were pinned down. Grandstaff was wounded saving several of his men and signalling for rescue helicopters. He destroyed one enemy position with hand grenades, and when he realized his position was being overrun, he called down artillery fire on top of himself to stop the enemy advance and eight of his men survived and eventually rescued. They credited Grandstaff with saving their lives.

Bills to rename the center have been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, and the House by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Today all members of the state’s delegation signed a letter supporting the name change to the Senate Committee that will consider that chamber’s bill on Wednesday. The chairwoman of that committee is Murray.

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