Selfless Soldier visits Headquarters Battalion
Fort Belvoir Command Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Berhane and Sgt. Jason Mesner, Headquarters Battalion, place the Medal of Honor on recipient Robert Maxwell. Maxwell, who recieved the military's highest decoration for his actions in Operation Dragoon during World War II talked with Soldiers about his experience as a member of the Signal Corps.

On Sept. 7, 1944, the duties of Technician 5th Grade Robert Maxwell, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, duties were to string communication lines in Besancon, France at an American command post located in a farmhouse. But before he could do so the unit came under the attack of a German platoon less than 10 yards away.

Maxwell's unit had pulled back, leaving only the commander and three fellow Soldiers armed with .45- caliber pistols behind a stone wall. In the darkness of night, Maxwell heard the sound of one of the grenades lobbed at them hit the ground nearby. When he finally found it, he could only try to wedge it into the wall with only a blanket for protection. Suffering shrapnel wounds in his head, arms and his right foot, Maxwell was knocked unconscious by the blast. When he finally regained consciousness, his platoon leader was the only one left. Together, they beat a retreat to safety.

Maxwell, at 90, the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, spent time with Soldiers at Headquarters Battalion Aug. 18. He spoke about his service in World War II and Operation Dragoon, when the second but largest U.S. Army invasion of 94,000 troops occurred that led to the defeat of the German army.

Maxwell, an Oregon resident was in Washington, D.C. for the 67th Commemorative Ceremony of Operation Dragoon at the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery, Aug. 6, where several Headquarters Battalion Soldiers served as color guard.

"Not much is talked about when it comes to the second landing. But we were critical to bringing an end to the war, once we were able to control critical areas … the Germans were forced to retreat," said Maxwell. Maxwell, who spent seven months recuperating in a Naples, Italy, hospital, is proud of his Army service and is humble about his actions that day.

"We have to sacrifice for our country and it has been an honor to serve," said Maxwell.

Soldiers who met with Maxwell were impressed by his selflessness and dedication.

"It was a great honor and inspiration to meet with him," said Sgt. Gabriel Rosa, Headquarters Battalion.

"It is great for younger Soldiers to hear their stories, to learn and make us feel proud of our service to the Army. It is a testament to his strength to see someone so vital and strong at 90," said Sgt. Monica Sanchez, Headquarters Battalion Human Resources.

Page last updated Thu August 18th, 2011 at 00:00