Hey guys, Joedemadio here with a new Medal of Honor Monday Story. This will be the final story for the Operation Market Garden Anniversary. That means, next week we’ll continue with different campaigns and battles. Today we’re taking a look at a paratrooper of the 101st Airborne.
Joe Eugene Mann was born on July 8th 1922 in Reardan, Washington. He was the son of John and Anna Mann and was raised in a big family. He grew up on a farm with eight brothers and sisters. Frank, Roy, Eleanor, (Joe), Jack, Harold, Helen, Irene and Donald. Frank was the oldest of all and Donald the youngest. Just one year after his graduation of Reardan High School, Joe joined the Army from Seattle, just like his brothers Roy and Jack. He enlisted in 1942 at the age of 20 and received his basic training at Fort Lewis, Washington. Joe wanted to become a pilot, but was rejected due to an old injury in his back. He got injured in High School while playing Football. So, he decided to join the paratroopers.
Joe Mann was originally asigned to G Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment at Toccoa, Georgia. He was a very good soldier and loved the life of being a soldier. His motivation, however, resulted in having a couple of enemies. A Sergeant in Joe’s Outfit didn’t like him so he made sure that he was transferred to another unit. Joe promised to prove himself and show the unit and especially that sergeant that he would be an outstanding soldier.
Just a month before shipping out to England in 1943, Joe was reassigned to a Company H of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment. Here it received further training for the D-Day Invasion, but had to miss D-Day because of problems with his back. He would prove himself during Operation Market Garden where he was a Scout for 2nd Platoon of H Company.
On September 17th the 502nd landed north of Best at Dropzone B together with the 506th. On September 18th Joe’s Company attempted to seize a bridge over the Whilehelmina Canal at Best. Because of strong enemy fire, the platoons of H Company got separated and lost their strength. Joe was wounded four times, but insisted to stay. The next morning he was killed by a grenade and sacrificed himself for his brothers in arms.
His Medal of Honor Citation read:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: He distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty. On 18 September 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, Pfc. 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. 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.
By Sacrificing himself here, he saved his buddies who where in the same trench as he was in. With these actions he earned himself the Congressional Medal of Honor. Joe died at the age of 22 and is burried at Greenwood Memorial Terrace in Spokane, Washington.
After the war Joe’s family made numerous visits to Best to honor Joe for what he has done. The community of Best errected two monuments which carry Joe’s name. In the Zonsche forest you’ll find the pelican monument. It depicts the mythical story of a pelican piercing her chest, sacrificing herself in order to feed her babies with blood and flesh. The second monument is placed close to the bridge at Best where Joe earned his medal of honor. Besides, the theatre in the forest, a road and a small restaurant next to the theatre carry Joe’s name and there is no one in Best who doesn’t know the story of Joe E. Mann.
I’ve researched the location for you on Google maps. The monument near the bridge can be found here http://goo.gl/maps/axCKgRZF9eA2 and the pelican monument can be found here https://goo.gl/maps/Qt51JoiQG5F2 Feel free to Streetview around the sites and see for yourself what the battlefields look like today.
May Joe rest in peace and his story spread around the world. If you thought this was an interesting story, feel free to share it with your friends.
Thanks for reading, salute and see you next time!