Mann, Joe Eugen, born 08-07-1922 in Spokane, Washington, joined the Army from Seattl, Washington in 1942, and by 18-09-1944 was serving as a private first class in Company H, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment , 101st Airborne Division . On that day, in Best, the Netherlands (see About), he single-handedly destroyed an enemy emplacement and continued to fire on the enemy from an exposed position until being wounded. Despite his wounds, he insisted on serving guard duty during the night. The next morning, during an enemy attack, Mann smothered the blast of a hand grenade with his body, sacrificing himself to protect those around him.
Joe Mann Memorial. Spot where he died. Joe Mann’s sister Ireen unveiling the monument.
For these actions, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor a year later, on 30-08-1945. Private First Class Mann’s official Medal of Honor citation reads: He distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty. On 18-09-1944, in the vicinity of Best, Holland, his platoon, attempting to seize the bridge across the Wilhelmina Canal
, was surrounded and isolated by an enemy force greatly superior in personnel and firepower. Acting as lead scout, Private first class Joe Mann boldly crept to within rocket-launcher range of an enemy artillery position and, in the face of heavy enemy fire, destroyed an 88mm. gun and an ammunition dump. Completely disregarding the great danger involved, he remained in his exposed position, and, with his M-1 rifle, killed the enemy one by one until he was wounded 4 times.
Death and burial ground of Mann, Joe Eugen.
Taken to a covered position, he insisted on returning to a forward position to stand guard during the night. On the following morning the enemy launched a concerted attack and advanced to within a few yards of the position, throwing hand grenades as they approached. One of these landed within a few feet of Pfc. Mann. Unable to raise his arms, which were bandaged to his body, he yelled “grenade” and threw his body over the grenade, and as it exploded, died. His outstanding gallantry above and beyond the call of duty and his magnificent conduct were an everlasting inspiration to his comrades for whom he gave his life. Thanks to his sacrifice, of the six men in the pit, only three were slightly injured, namely Anthony Atayde, Private Paxton and Lieutenant Edward L Wierzbowski; the rest remained unharmed. The United States Army ship USAT Private Joe Eugen Mann which operated in the Pacific Ocean at the end of World War II was named in his honor. The casualties of the 101st Airborne Division during their campaign in Europe; In Normandy, killed/died of wounds 868, wounded in action 2.303, missing/captured 665. In Holland killed 752, wounded 2.151 and missing 398. In the battle of the Bulge in Belgium, killed 482, wounded 2.449 and missing 527, in total killed 2.043, wounded 2.782 and missed 1590. Joe Mann is honored every year by the Eindhoven 101st Airborne Association, and his three brothers and sister Ireen were regular our guests for the commemoration close to his place of destination in Best.
Mann, aged 22 at his death, was first buried on the larg American Cemetery of Margraten, but reburied in Greenwood Memorial Terrace, Spokane, Washington.