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Merkley, Walden Lead Oregon Delegation in Push to Rename VA Clinic in Bend After Robert Maxwell

Jun 25, 2020
Press Release
Maxwell was a Medal of Honor recipient and World War II veteran

Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Greg Walden (R-OR-2), with Senator Ron Wyden and Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3), Peter DeFazio (D-OR-4), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR-5), are introducing legislation to rename the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic in Bend after Robert Maxwell, a World War II veteran and Medal of Honor Recipient who lived in Bend. In addition, the lawmakers are pressing Veterans’ Affairs Committee leaders to consider the bills and vote them out of committee, readying them for full Senate and House votes.

At the time of Maxwell’s passing, he was the oldest Medal of Honor recipient in the nation and one of four remaining veterans from World War II to be awarded the Medal of Honor. After his courageous service, he worked as a teacher in Bend.

“During his service he reached the rank of Technician Fifth Grade and was awarded a Medal of Honor, Silver Star, Silver Star Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts,” the lawmakers explained in their letter to Veterans’ Affairs Chairmen Senator Jerry Moran (R-KA) and Representative Mark Takano (D-CA-41), and Ranking Members Jon Tester (D-MT) and Representative Phil Roe (R-TN-1). “Mr. Maxwell jumped on an enemy grenade to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. He was severely maimed by the blast, but recovered and went on to lead a full life.”

“After the war, Mr. Maxwell returned to civilian life and continued to serve the communities he called home through teaching,” the lawmakers continued. “Renaming the VA facility in Bend after Mr. Maxwell would be a fitting tribute to an American hero who meets all the criteria for such an honor.”

There are currently six VA medical facilities across the country that are named after Medal of Honor recipients, including Loren R. Kaufman VA Clinic in The Dalles.

The City of Bend, American Legion Department of Oregon, Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Oregon, and Disabled American Veterans Department of Oregon support the renaming.

The full text of the lawmakers’ letter follows below.

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Dear Chairmen Moran and Takano and Ranking Members Tester and Roe:

We are writing to express our support for renaming the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic in Bend, Oregon, after Robert Maxwell, a World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient. At the time of his passing, he was the oldest Medal of Honor recipient in the nation and one of four remaining veterans from World War II to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Mr. Maxwell served in the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division in World War II. During his time with the unit he participated in campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, mainland Italy, and southern France. During his service he reached the rank of Technician Fifth Grade and was awarded a Medal of Honor, Silver Star, Silver Star Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts.

He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on September 7, 1944, near Besancon, France, when his observation post was attacked by enemy forces. Against heavy fire he led several soldiers, armed with only .45 caliber handguns, and fought against numerically superior enemy forces. Mr. Maxwell jumped on an enemy grenade to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. He was severely maimed by the blast, but recovered and went on to lead a full life.

After the war, Mr. Maxwell returned to civilian life and continued to serve the communities he called home through teaching. He was an auto mechanic teacher at Bend High School and at Lane Community College. He also helped create an auto mechanic program at Central Oregon Community College.

Renaming the VA facility in Bend after Mr. Maxwell would be a fitting tribute to an American hero who meets all the criteria for such an honor. For your consideration, we have enclosed letters of support from the Bend City Council as well as the Oregon state commanders for the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled American Veterans.

Sincerely,