Larry L. Maxam

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Larry L. Maxam was a United States Marine who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor of his heroism in the Vietnam War.

Maxam was born on January 9, 1948, in Glendale, California, and raised in Burbank. His family joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1956 when he was eight years old. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at the age of 17. He completed recruit training with the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion in San Diego and served briefly with the Casual Section of the 2nd Infantry Training Regiment at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, and then completed individual combat training there with Company A. He served with the Marine Aviation Detachment at Naval Air Technical Training Center Jacksonville (August 1965–February 1966).

He then was transferred and served as a rifleman and a fireman with additional companies and at Officer Candidates School at Marine Corps Base Quantico and with Camp Garcia in Vieques, Puerto Rico. He was promoted to private first class on April 1, 1966, and to Lance Corporal on January 1, 1967.

He arrived in the Republic of Vietnam in July 1967 and served as a rifleman, radioman, and squad leader. He was promoted to Corporal on October 1, 1967.

On February 2, 1968, Cam Lo District Headquarters came under heavy rocket, artillery, mortar and gunfire from a large enemy force, and a portion of the compound's defensive perimeter was destroyed. As enemy soldiers prepared to enter, Maxam ran to an abandoned machine gun and single-handedly defended the perimeter, enduring injuries for almost two hours before he died. He was buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Oahu, Hawaii.[1]

In 1968, he was awarded the Medal of Honor—the highest U.S. military honor—for heroism.

His citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Fire Team Leader with Company D, First Battalion, Fourth Marines, Third Marine Division in the Republic of Vietnam. On 2 February 1968, the Cam Lo District Headquarters came under extremely heavy rocket, artillery, mortar, and recoilless rifle fire from a numerically superior enemy force, destroying a portion of the defensive perimeter. Corporal Maxam, observed the enemy massing for an assault into the compound across the remaining defensive wire, instructed his Assistant Fire Team Leader to take charge of the fire team, and unhesitatingly proceeded to the weakened 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. 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. Corporal Maxam's aggressive fighting spirit, inspiring valor and selfless devotion to duty reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, his other medals and decorations include Purple Heart, Navy Presidential Unit Citation, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with 2 service stars, Vietnam Military Merit Medal, Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm, and Vietnam Campaign Medal.

In 2010, the City of Burbank renamed Pacific Park in his honor.

External Sources