2019-05-16 05:46:00 by Heather Roberts, Danise Lee
BEND, OR -- Robert Maxwell is being remembered in a very public way, near one of his favorite places. The Medal of Honor recipient passed away Saturday in Bend, at the age of 98. A billboard honoring Maxwell and his service is now up near Jake’s Diner, where he often met with the Bend Band of Brothers. It sits along Highway 20, which is designated as Oregon’s Medal of Honor Highway.
A memorial service is planned for May 31 at noon, at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds, followed by interment with full military honors at Terrebonne Cemetery. The day before, May 30, a vigil time for viewing and paying respects will be held at the Niswonger-Reynolds Chapel (105 NW Irving Ave., Bend), between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Maxwell was a pillar of the community. Central Oregon Community college Extended Learning Dean Jerry Schulz pursued a "Medal of Honor College" designation for COCC, in Maxwell's honor, last year (Maxwell pictured right, with a COCC automotive student in 2018). Schulz told KBND News then, "He was instrumental in helping launch the automotive program for Central Oregon Community College, way back in the late 50s or early 60s. And, he taught for our school for many years."
On Pearl Harbor Day last year, Maxwell told KBND News his story: On September 7, 1944, he was serving as a wireman, maintaining telephone wires near a battle's front line, when their command post was attacked by Germans. "A grenade came over the wall that we were behind, and fell in my vicinity, and the only alternative I had was to try to smother the grenade's explosion in order to keep from getting my comrades killed." Maxwell kicked the grenade and it exploded against the wall. He was injured, but his battalion was able to defend their position. "I'm very proud to have at least done a small part to help in the war effort, and above all, to have been privileged to join in the liberation of France." He added, "I'm very proud to have served my company, and the medal is just something I'd have never dreamed of ever having, and I don't know if I deserve it or not." Click HERE to listen to our full 2018 conversation with Robert Maxwell.
On Monday, Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno and Oregon Congressman Greg Walden were among those who expressed their regrets at Maxwell's passing. "His bravery, his heroism, were only matched by his kindness, his warmth, and his sense of humor," said Walden, "He was inspirational to all who met him, and he was an incredible human being." The Congressman also spoke about Maxwell to the full U.S. House, Thursday: