Born on October 26, 1920, in Boise, Idaho, Maxwell joined the Army from Larimer County, Colorado. He served overseas as a technician fifth grade with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. Assigned as the battalion "wire man", he carried a heavy roll of cable and was tasked with stringing phone lines to the command post. He began the war armed with a M1 Garand rifle, but was later reclassified as a non-combatant and carried only a .45 caliber pistol.
With the 7th Infantry, Maxwell took part in the North African Campaign followed by the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943, marching to Palermo and on to Messina. The unit then landed at Salerno shortly after the Allied invasion of mainland Italy and fought northwards to an area near Cassino. Wounded during the early stages of the subsequent Battle of Anzio in January 1944, Maxwell spent the next few months recovering at a hospital in Naples.
He rejoined his unit in time for the invasion of southern France (Operation Dragoon) in August 1944 and the following advance inland. On September 7, near Besançon in eastern France, Maxwell smothered the blast of an enemy hand grenade with his body to protect those around him. He survived his wounds and seven months later, on April 6, 1945, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.
From 1966 through 1986, Maxwell taught auto mechanics at Lane Community College, which named its student veterans center after Maxwell in 2012. He is also credited with helping to establish a similar program at Central Oregon Community College, and was honored in 1970 as one of 5,000 outstanding educators.
Maxwell resides in Bend, Oregon, and is the only living Medal of Honor recipient in that state.
In 2000, at the age of 79, he received his High School Diploma from Bend Senior High.
In 2012, he suffered a minor stroke, but recovered after only a few short days with only minor loss of functionality of his right hand. He continues as the director of the non-profit Bend Heroes Foundation.
Maxwell's official Medal of Honor citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 7 September 1944, near Besancon, France. Technician 5th Grade Maxwell and 3 other soldiers, armed only with .45 caliber automatic pistols, defended the battalion observation post against an overwhelming onslaught by enemy infantrymen in approximately platoon strength, supported by 20mm. flak and machinegun fire, who had infiltrated through the battalion's forward companies and were attacking the observation post with machinegun, machine pistol, and grenade fire at ranges as close as 10 yards. Despite a hail of fire from automatic weapons and grenade launchers, Technician 5th Grade Maxwell aggressively fought off advancing enemy elements and, by his calmness, tenacity, and fortitude, inspired his fellows to continue the unequal struggle. When an enemy hand grenade was thrown in the midst of his squad, Technician 5th Grade Maxwell unhesitatingly hurled himself squarely upon it, using his blanket and his unprotected body to absorb the full force of the explosion. This act of instantaneous heroism permanently maimed Technician 5th Grade Maxwell, but saved the lives of his comrades in arms and facilitated maintenance of vital military communications during the temporary withdrawal of the battalion's forward headquarters.
The Medal of Honor is the United States of America's highest military honor, awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. The medal is awarded by the President of the United States in the name of the U.S. Congress to U.S. military personnel only. There are three versions of the medal, one for the Army, one for the Navy, and one for the Air Force. Personnel of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard receive the Navy version.
The Medal of Honor was created as a Navy version in 1861 named the "Medal of Valor", and an Army version of the medal named the "Medal of Honor" was established in 1862 to give recognition to men who distinguished themselves "conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity" in combat with an enemy of the United States. Because the medal is presented "in the name of Congress," it is often referred to as the "Congressional Medal of Honor". However, the official name is the "Medal of Honor," which began with the U.S. Army's version. Within United States Code the medal is referred to as the "Medal of Honor", and less frequently as "Congressional Medal of Honor".
The Medal of Honor is usually presented by the President in a formal ceremony at the White House, intended to represent the gratitude of the American people, with posthumous presentations made to the primary next of kin. According to the Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States, there have been 3,513 Medals of Honor awarded to the nation's soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen since the decoration's creation, with just less than half of them awarded for actions during the four years of the American Civil War.
In 1990, Congress designated March 25 annually as "National Medal of Honor Day". Due to its prestige and status, the Medal of Honor is afforded special protection under U.S. law against any unauthorized adornment, sale, or manufacture, which includes any associated ribbon or badge
Displaying over 300 American flags in Bend Oregon on 7 patriotic holidays.
Honoring Veterans from each war, the signs stretch from border to border in Oregon.
Providing students with the chance to learn values from Veterans who personify them.
Honoring fallen Veterans, with wreaths on their graves every year.
Honoring Bend Oregon's Veterans and First Responders who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Honoring Oregon Veterans that have received our nation's highest honor.