Congressional lawmakers from Oregon want to name the Veterans Administration clinic in Bend after a World War II Army combat veteran who threw himself onto a grenade in France to save three fellow soldiers.
Robert Maxwell, who died in May 2019 at the age of 98, received the Medal of Honor, Silver Star, and many other awards for his valor that fateful day Sept. 7, 1942, when he and three others defended an observation post from enemy attack. When an enemy tossed a hand grenade among the squad, he threw a blanket and his body on the ammunition to absorb the explosion and protect the other men.
“After the war, Mr. Maxwell returned to civilian life and continued to serve the communities he called home through teaching,” the lawmakers said in their bill to rename the Bend CBOC, which stands for Community Based Outpatient Clinic. “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.
Spearheading the effort to rename the clinic were U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Greg Walden, both Republicans from Oregon’s 2nd District. Others supporting the bill are Democrats Senator Ron Wyden and Representatives Suzanne Bonamici from the 1st District, Earl Blumenauer from the 3rd, Peter DeFazio from the 4th, and Kurt Schrader from the 5th.
After the war, Maxell, a native of Boise, Idaho, earned his completed two years of vocational school in Eugene and, after a two-year Oldsmobile apprenticeship, taught auto mechanics for decades at Bend High School and Lane Community College. He was listed in 1970 among the nation’s top educators.
Six of the nation’s VA medical centers are named for Medal of Honor recipients, including Loren R. Kaufman VA Clinic in The Dalles. Bend’s would be the seventh.
In 1984, a bridge over the Deschutes River was named the Robert D. Maxwell Veterans Memorial Bridge.