WWII Medal of Honor vet dedicates LCC center

WWII Medal of Honor vet dedicates LCC center »Play Video
Robert Maxwell of Bend with actor Tom Hanks at dedication of the National WWII Memorial (2004)

EUGENE, Ore. - A Congressional Medal of Honor winner from Oregon stopped in Eugene today to dedicate a new student vets center that bears his name.

Robert Maxwell, 92, of Bend is one of only 12 living Medal of Honor recipients who fought in World War II.

Maxwell was honored Monday at Lane Community College at the opening of the Maxwell Student Veteran Center.

His war experience came to a head in September 1944.  Maxwell and 3 other soldiers, armed with only .45 caliber pistols, fought German patrols in southern France.

With their observation post surrounded, Maxwell hurled himself on top of a German hand grenade that had been tossed into the post, using his blanket and unprotected body to absorb the blast.

He told KVAL News, "We were bombarded with many hand grenades but only one of them came in and landed among us and that's the one that almost finished us off. Fortunately no one was wounded except me."

Maxwell was awarded the Medal of Honor the following year in Denver. 

The veteran taught in LCC's auto mechanics program from 1966 until his retirement in 1986.  The dedication recognized Maxwell's 20 years of service to Lane and his skill as a master mechanic - and his exceptional heroism in World War Two.