Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center
VAMC Celebrates Pearl Harbor Survivors
Spokane’s seven living survivors of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor all received a hero’s welcome from the staff, volunteers, fellow Veterans, military, and Congressional leaders at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center on January 21, 2015. The members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, Lilac City Chapter gather for the national observance of the attack every December 7th at Spokane’s Veterans Memorial Arena.
Even though that was only a few weeks ago, these close friends assembled once more to pay tribute and celebrate three January birthdays, including a very special 100th for member George “Bud” Garvin. With the help of his son Woody, Bud led a procession of his fellow survivors and family members down the medical center’s main hallway as hundreds of VA staff and Veteran patients waved U.S. flags, cheered and thanked them for their service and bravery.
The processional brought tears of joy, admiration and profound respect for the Veterans and two civilian survivors of the attack in Hawaii. Seventy-three years later, the survivors were thanking Spokane’s VA for a welcome they will always remember. “The warm celebration for the 100-year-old and the other Pearl Harbor surviving Veterans was heard through the hospital halls and one could not help but smile,” said Tammy Marsden, a nurse practitioner at the medical center.
Inpatients and staff on other floors and throughout the clinics on campus knew something special was underway, as a soft piano and trumpet instrumental played over the hospital’s public address system while the parade of survivors made their way past countless smiles and well wishes. “I wanted to be here for these guys because they really need to be honored every time we get the chance to show our respect,” said Veteran Michael Kover, who not only waved a flag in the hall, but also attended the party in the Community Living Center afterwards.
Television news reporters covered the historic event, which saw each survivor receive a hand-made lap quilt among other gifts. For Bud (100), and fellow “birthday boys” Clyde Buteau (98) and Sid Kennedy (92), each were presented with coins from the Ladies Auxiliary of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post-51, honorary pins from the Command Chiefs of both the 92nd and 141st Air Refueling Wings stationed at nearby Fairchild Air Force Base, and personal letters of appreciation and pride in service from the offices of Washington State’s Congressional delegation.
There was cake and ice cream for everyone except for Bud, who at 100, wanted chocolate cream pie. The party afforded a sneak peek into Bud Garvin’s life, which included the Pearl Harbor attack, landing at Omaha Beach just three years later during the D-Day invasion, and ultimately surviving World War II’s bloodiest battle for the U.S. and allied troops against the Nazi’s, the “Battle of the Bulge.”
After World War II ended, the U.S. Air Force was born and Bud went on to serve 30-years, retiring as a Major. A life of ministry followed for Bud, accompanied by his wife Mary Lee and son Woody who shared nothing but praise for the VA for giving them (and Bud) “a party he had been waiting for his entire life.”