Saturday, April 17, 2010

Larry Leanard Maxam - Medal of Honor

Cpl Larry Leanard Maxam, USMC, Vietnam
Larry Maxam's Burbank High School Photo

Corporal Larry Leonard Maxam, USMC, home of record is Glendale, California, but Larry who was born in Glendale, lived and grew up in Burbank, California. He was an avid Boy Scout enthusiast. He was initiated into scouting’s highest organization, the Order of the Arrow, while he was an Air Explorer.

He attended Emerson Grade School, John Muir Junior High and Burbank High School. His sophomore and junior picture are in the 1964 and 1965 Burbank High Ceralbus yearbook. His mother Alice described her son as a husky, beautiful boy. "He loved to go hiking in the hills with his friends. One time he hiked as far as Monrovia. He was quite an outdoors boy."

Larry is the one standing in the center facing the camera.

Larry Maxam left Burbank High shortly after his junior picture was taken in the end of 1964 and joined the Marine Corp. He trained at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, Jacksonville, Florida, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Officers Candidates School, Quantico, Virginia, and Vieques Island, Puerto Rico. He was promoted to private first class, April 1, 1966, and to lance corporal, January 1, 1967, Lance Corporal Maxam next served as a rifleman in the Caribbean, until May 1967.

In July 1967, he arrived in the Republic of Vietnam, and served as a rifleman, radioman, and squad leader with Company D, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, and 3rd Marine Division. He was promoted to corporal, October 1, 1967. While participating in Operation Kentucky on February 2, 1968, he was killed in action at Cam Lo District Headquarters, Quang Tri Province.

Part of his Medal of Honor citation: "The Cam Lo District Headquarters came under heavy attack, with heavy rocket, artillery, mortar, and recoilless rifle fire from a numerically superior enemy force, destroying a portion of the defensive perimeter. Cpl Maxam proceeded to the weaken section of the perimeter. Completely exposed to the concentrated enemy fire, he sustained multiple fragmentation wounds from exploding grenades as he ran to an abandoned machine gun and commenced to deliver effective fire on the advancing enemy. As the enemy directed maximum fire power against the determined Marine, Corporal Maxam’s position received a direct hit from a rocket propelled grenade, knocking him backwards and inflicting severe fragmentation wounds to his face and right eye.

Vice President Spiro Agnew presents the Maxam family with a posthumous Medal of Honor for Marine Cpl. Larry L. Maxam on April 20, 1970. From left are Cpl. Maxam's mother Alice Maxam, brother Robin Maxam and in-law Sophie Ryan. (Courtesy of the Maxam family)

Although momentarily stunned and in intense pain, Corporal Maxam courageously resumed his firing position and subsequently was struck again by small arms fire. With resolute determination, he gallantly continued to deliver intense machine gun fire, causing the enemy to retreat through the defensive wire to positions of cover. In a desperate attempt to silence his weapon, the North Vietnamese threw hand grenades and directed recoilless rifle fire against him inflicting two additional wounds.

Too weak to reload his machine gun, Corporal Maxam fell to a prone position and valiantly continued to deliver effective fire with his rifle. After one and a half hours, during which he was hit repeatedly by fragments from exploding grenades and concentrated small arms fire, he succumbed to his wounds, having successfully defended nearly one half of the perimeter single-handedly."

Shortly after Larry’s death, his mother Alice took her two remaining children and left the country and moved to Australia, where they reside today. Alice Maxam died in 2008. Corporal Larry Leonard Maxam is buried in the National Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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