A Couple Of  WWII Heroes

May 20, 2009 Salem, Oregon  All photos by Q Madp

 




Robert "Bob" Maxwell

Robert D. Maxwell, Technician Fifth Grade, U.S. Army
Excerpt from: “Medal of Honor, PORTRAITS OF VALOR BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY” page 170, ISBN: 1-57965-240-9 (1st ed.)

“Robert Maxwell was the “wire man” to his Army buddies - a lineman in charge of stringing up the field phone connections for his battalion’s communications. When he landed in North Africa with the 7th Infantry as a technician fifth grade, he carried an M-1 rifle. But along with his wire and tools, the load was so heavy that he was reclassified as a noncombatant, which allowed him to carry only a .45-caliber pistol.
After the North Africa campaign, Maxwell’s division invaded Sicily in July 1943, than raced north to Palermo and east to Messina, helping to capture the island in thirty-eight days. The division next moved to the newly established Salerno beachhead and fought its way north through the mountains near Montecassino. In early January 1944, a few days after it landed on the beaches of Anzio, Maxwell was wounded. Hospitalized in Naples for several months, he rejoined his outfit before the invasion of southern France that summer.
On September 7, Maxwell’s battalion was part of the assault on the town Besancon. His job was to string communications wire to connect the front lines with the American command post, which was set up in a shell-pocked farmhouse surrounded by a four-foot stone wall. Along the top of the wall was a mesh-wire fence. Shortly after midnight, as Maxwell was standing guard in the courtyard of the house, a German platoon that had infiltrated the American battalion’s forward companies opened fire with machineguns and 20mm antiaircraft weapons. In the dark, he could see the advancing Germans as they were briefly illuminated by gunfire and hear the twang of their grenades bouncing off the mesh wire above the wall. They came within ten yards of the command post, trying to take out the officers inside. Maxwell fought them off with his .45, as three other soldiers, also armed only with pistols, joined him.
After several minutes of chaos, an enemy grenade cleared the wire. Maxwell heard it hit the courtyard a few feet away from the door of the command post. Fearing that it would injure the officers, he moved to grab it and toss it back at the enemy. But he realized there wasn’t time, so he smothered it with his body, then lost consciousness. 
When he came to, he was alone. He had large shrapnel wounds in his head and arms, and part of his right foot was blown away. His platoon leader appeared, picked Maxwell up, and helped him walk out the back door of the farmhouse. Just as they reached the road, another German grenade hit behind them, knocking them both down.
When a Chaplain in the Naples hospital where Maxwell was recuperating told him that he had been recommended for the Medal of Honor, Maxwell assumed it was just talk. But on May 12, 1945, at a Camp Carson Convalescent Hospital in Colorado, he received the medal from camp commander General C.W. Danielson in a ceremony attended by all the medical personnel.”

Robert D. Maxwell - Medal of Honor Citation:

Rank and organization: Technician Fifth Grade, U.S. Army, 7th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Besancon, France, 7 September 1944. Entered service at: Larimer County, Colo. Birth: Boise, Idaho. G.O. No.: 24, 6 April 1945. Citation: 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.




John "Jack" Sherman

John “Jack” Sherman, Private 1st Class, U.S. Army
The son of immigrants from England, Jack Sherman as well as all four of his brothers served in the Army during World War II. Jack joined the Army and was inducted in October 1943, a month before his 20th birthday. In July of 1944 he was assigned as a replacement to Company G, 327th Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division that had suffered heavy losses during the invasion of Normandy. Jack entered combat as part of “Operation Market Garden”, the airborne invasion of Holland, on September 18th, 1944. After a glider landing near Zon, Holland, Jack would spend 70+ days in combat before his unit was brought back to France for refit. 

On December 19th, 1944 Jack and his unit would be sent to Bastogne, Belgium to stop a major German advance. Though surrounded by enemy forces for much of the time, the 101st Airborne would successfully hold out against overwhelming odds in what became known as the “Battle of the Bulge”. Jack and the 101st Airborne Division would later fight through southern France, Germany and Austria, capturing Hitler’s infamous “Eagles Nest” in Berchtesgaden, Austria. 

After hostilities ended Jack would serve in occupation duty in Austria. When the 101st Airborne Division was disbanded, he was transferred to Company G, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. He would return home to the U.S. with the 82nd Airborne Division and march with them in the WWII Victory Parade in New York City on January 12, 1946.

Jack Sherman's military decorations, awards, and honors include: Bronze Star Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Glider Wings with Combat Star, Good Conduct Medal, European-Africa-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 Bronze Campaign Stars and 1 Bronze Invasion arrowhead, WWII Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal (Germany), Presidential Unit Citation, Netherlands Orange Lanyard, "La Grand Croix de l' Order de Lepold II" (Belgium), "Croix Militaire de lere Classe" (Belgium, "Croix de Guerre 1940 Avec Palm" (Belgium), Fourragere 1940 (Belgium).

 

 

 

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