Grandstaff Library on Joint Base Lewis-McChord Memorializes Former EWU ROTC Cadet

For most Soldiers stationed or visiting Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), they don’t realize that the post library on this expansive military base has ties back to the Eastern Washington University (EWU) Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) battalion.

The Grandstaff Library on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The library is named after Medal of Honor Recipient and former EWU ROTC Cadet Bruce A. Grandstaff.

The Entrance to the Grandstaff Library on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Bruce Grandstaff enrolled in what was then Eastern Washington State College in 1952.  Back then every male had to enroll into ROTC.  Two years later in 1954, Grandstaff decided to enlist into the Army.  He spent two years in the Army before returning to Eastern Washington State College to continue his military science studies in 1956.

The inside of the Grandstaff Library.

After getting married in 1958 Grandstaff decided to reenlist in the Army in 1961.  He would have a successful Army career and be promoted to Sergeant First Class (SFC).  In 1967 he was deployed to Vietnam as a Platoon Sergeant in B Company, 1-8 Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division which was then stationed at Ft. Lewis, WA.  SFC Grandstaff’s platoon in May 1967 was participating in Operation Francis Marion near the Cambodian border.  The operation was intended to protect the la Drang Valley from attack by the North Vietnamese Army.  During the operation SFC Grandstaff’s platoon of 30 personnel became surrounded by an estimated 700 enemy soldiers.

Memorial plaque outside of the Grandstaff Library.

The battle lasted for 5 hours and SFC Grandstaff was wounded in both legs as he rallied his men into a defense, coordinated helicopter strafing runs, and artillery fire against the attacking North Vietnamese troops.  In a final act of courage SFC Grandstaff ordered an artillery strike on top of his position.  Ultimately it would not be enough as the beleaguered defenders were eventually over run by the sheer size of the attacking enemy.  The vast majority of the platoon to include SFC Grandstaff were killed in the final assault by the North Vietnamese Army troops.  At the time of his passing SFC Grandstaff had already been recognized with a Silver Star for prior combat actions in Vietnam, but for his heroism along the Cambodian border he was posthumously recognized with the Congressional Medal of Honor as well.

Display inside of the Grandstaff Library with SFC Grandstaff’s Medal of Honor citation. 

To this day SFC Grandstaff is the only Spokane born recipient of the nation’s highest honor for combat heroism.  He is also the only former EWU ROTC Cadet to ever be recognized with the Congressional Medal of Honor as well.

This Veteran’s Day weekend it is well worth spending a few minutes reading about the heroism of SFC Grandstaff’s by reading the linked chapter from the book “Nine Days in May: The Battles of the 4th Infantry Division on the Cambodian Border“.

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