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VA Medical Center to be renamed

War heroes Mann, Grandstaff honored

Spokane’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center will be renamed for a pair of local heroes, both houses of Congress decided Thursday.

The northwest Spokane facility will become the Mann-Grandstaff Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in honor of Pfc. Joe E. Mann and Platoon Sgt. Bruce Grandstaff, soldiers who won the Medal of Honor in two different wars.

Mann was a member of the 101st Airborne in World War II who was wounded four times while destroying an enemy artillery position near Best, in the Netherlands. Later that night, with both arms bandaged to his body, he volunteered for sentry duty. When the Germans attacked and a grenade was thrown, he threw himself on the grenade to save other members of his unit.

Grandstaff was a member of the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam who was leading a reconnaissance mission that was ambushed near the Cambodian border. He crawled through enemy fire to rescue his men, and crawled outside the safe position to mark the location with smoke grenades for aerial support. He continued to fight until mortally wounded, then called in an artillery barrage to knock out enemy forces.

With time running out in this Congress, Thursday morning the Senate passed legislation sponsored by Democrat Patty Murray to rename the center. An identical bill sponsored by Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers passed the House later in the afternoon.

Mann was a native of Reardan, Wash., and Grandstaff was born in Spokane. Renaming the center was a way to pay homage to two Eastern Washington residents who paid the ultimate price in service to their country, the two sponsors said.