In 1954, two years after graduating from North Central H.S., Bruce Alan Grandstaff enlisted in the U.S. Army. A career soldier, Platoon Sergeant Grandstaff was decorated in 1967 with the Silver Star for combat heroism in South Vietnam. Two months later he was one of 48 American soldiers killed during a firefight in Pleiku Province in May 1967. For his heroic actions before being fatally wounded, he was posthumously awarded the U.S. military’s highest decoration—the Medal of Honor.
Sergeant Grandstaff was leading Weapons Platoon, Company B, on a reconnaissance mission near the Cambodian border, when his platoon was attacked from three sides. He ran 30 meters through intense enemy fire to save a wounded soldier. After establishing a defensive perimeter, Grandstaff called in army artillery fire to within 45 meters of his location. He twice left his defensive position to set off smoke grenades as markers for rescue helicopters.
Despite a serious leg wound, Sergeant Grandstaff refused medical aid and called in even closer artillery fire as the enemy closed in. He then crawled to an exposed position and fired tracer ammunition through the jungle canopy to mark the enemy’s position for the helicopter gunships. This action again drew enemy fire, and Sergeant Grandstaff was wounded in his other leg. Under intense pain, he crawled to within 10 meters of an enemy machine gun and destroyed it with hand grenades. Despite receiving additional wounds, he rallied his remaining men to withstand the enemy assaults.
Sergeant Grandstaff continued to fight until mortally wounded by an enemy rocket. Survivors attest to his exceptional courage as he inspired his men to fight courageously against overwhelming odds.
Age 32 at his death, Grandstaff was buried in Spokane’s Greenwood Memorial Terrace. A historical monument was dedicated to him during ceremonies in the cemetery’s Garden of Honor on September 11, 2010. The Grandstaff Memorial Library was also dedicated in his memory at Fort Lewis, Washington.