SFC Bruce Grandstaff: Vietnam War Medal of Honor
Sergeant First Class Bruce Alan Grandstaff
1934 ~ 1967
Congressional Medal of Honor
Silver Star and Purple Heart
Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division
Bruce Grandstaff was born June 2, 1934, in Spokane, Washington and sacrificed his life on May 18, 1967, in Pleiku Province, Republic of Vietnam. He graduated from North Central High School in 1952 and attended Eastern Washington State College. He joined the U.S. Army on August 17, 1954. In 1966, Grandstaff achieved the rank of Sergeant First Class and volunteered for duty in Vietnam.
Operation Francis Marion was in full swing by May 18, 1967, aimed at stopping the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) from seizing the Ia Drang Valley near the Cambodian Border. While on reconnaissance, elements of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division were ordered to begin a search and destroy operation that would come to be known as the “Nine Days of May Border Battles,” which began on May 18th screening jungle terrain on the border to block communist infiltration.
Alpha and Bravo Companies, mutually supporting each other, began their sweep. The Weapons Platoon, as lead unit of the multi-company force, advanced through intermittent enemy contact. It was ambushed and surrounded by a well-concealed, heavily-armed, battalion-sized enemy force of almost 700. The enemy opened fire on the 30 troopers with rockets, heavy small arms, and automatic weapons fire from three sides. Three intense thrusts by the numerically superior enemy force were made and were successfully repelled by these gallant men under Grandstaff’s courageous leadership.
During the five-hour siege, Grandstaff fought valiantly to save his men, racing many times through enemy fire to help the wounded. His actions drew fire upon himself and, although seriously wounded first in one leg and then the other, continued to fight and encourage his men. Realizing their position was hopeless, Grandstaff called in artillery strikes increasingly closer. As the enemy overran the perimeter, Grandstaff called in a strike on his own position.
Grandstaff was held in high regard by the members of his unit, and his outstanding leadership inspired those physically able to continue fighting. His courage and spirit of absolute determination heartened his men, enlisting their best efforts throughout the arduous battle.
His extreme acts of heroism saved the lives of eight of his men and gave warning to other platoons. The coordinated employment of artillery, air and gunships, as well as the devastating fire from the men of Company B, forced the enemy to withdraw, sustaining heavy casualties.
The fortitude, determination and unwavering courage of the 4th Infantry Division rendered two NVA regiments ineffective and totally disrupted the 1967 summer monsoon offensive. The 1st Brigade was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for devotion to duty. Grandstaff also received recognition for his personal contribution and sacrifice.
Grandstaff had been previously awarded the Silver Star for courage and valor during another battle leading to the rescue of a 4th Division company pinned down along the Cambodian Border.
Bruce Grandstaff was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest honor for heroism under fire and for his extraordinary heroism in close combat against a numerically superior force. His name is listed in the Hall of Heroes in the Pentagon. The Grandstaff Memorial Library was built and dedicated to his memory at Fort Lewis, Washington.