BESANCON, France - For one Soldier, a split second to act meant life or almost certain death.
He did not hesitate when a grenade was lobbed into the command observation post where he and several others were. He leapt onto it without hesitation to save his fellow Soldiers, and survived.
Robert D. Maxwell, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, saved the lives of his fellow Soldiers, On Sept. 7, 1944, during World War II in Besancon, France. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for heroism for his actions that day.
It has been 74 years since the liberation of Besancon, and France has not forgotten all those who gave so much. The city of Besancon dedicated a plaque to Maxwell, Sept. 7, 2018, at the Esplanade of the 3rd Infantry Division monument, which overlooks Besancon.
"Bob made the conscious decision to throw himself upon a German grenade to save the lives of the men with him in his battalion's forward command post," said retired Army Capt. Timmoni Stoy, Society of the 3rd Infantry Division. "One of those men was his battalion commander, Lt. Col. Lloyd B. Ramsey. Had all the men in the command post been killed or wounded, the battalion's attack may have been degraded as the chain of command was reestablished."
The actions of Maxwell that day will continue to inspire all who visit the plaque honoring him and the 3rd Infantry Division. Maxwell was unable to attend the ceremony, but he was able to watch via Skype from Oregon, where he resides.
"I think Cpl. Maxwell would be immensely grateful for these honors; however, my sense is he would reflect on his actions and say, he was doing what he felt he had to do, as he served alongside his brothers," said Brig. Gen. David Hamilton, 3rd Infantry Division.
Since leaving active duty service, Maxwell has become an educator and has helped to establish various programs throughout schools across Oregon. He was recently named a top educator in Oregon. He also continues to be an active member in the 3ID association. Maxwell's awards and decorations include; the Medal of Honor, Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Medal, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one silver and two bronze stars, World War II Victory Medal, French Legion of Honor (Chevalier-Knight), and Combat Infantryman Badge.
"We revere the immense bravery of men like Robert Maxwell," said Hamilton. "They portray the best of us; humility, bravery, love, and compassion."