Thursday, February 02, 2012

TFH 2/2: Corporal Larry L. Maxam, USMC

When a defensive perimeter is compromised, it's real bad news for the defenders. Unless, that is, a heroic United States Marine is there to carry on the defense alone.

On this day in 1968, 20-year old Larry Maxam of Burbank, California grabbed an abandoned machine gun, ignored multiple wounds, and repelled the assault on the Cam Lo district headquarters in Vietnam. He gave his Nation his life. His Nation gave him its highest honor.


Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, Company D, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Marine Division (Rein), FMF. place and date: Cam Lo District, Quang Tri province, Republic of Vietnam, 2 February 1968. Entered service at: Los Angeles, Calif. Born: 9 January 1948, Glendale, Calif. Citation: 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. 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. Cpl. Maxam, observing 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 position. Reaching the emplacement, he grasped the machine gun and commenced to deliver effective fire on the advancing enemy. As the enemy directed maximum firepower against the determined marine, Cpl. 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, Cpl. 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 2 additional wounds. Too weak to reload his machine gun, Cpl. Maxam fell to a prone position and valiantly continued to deliver effective fire with his rifle. After 1 1/2 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 half of the perimeter single-handedly. Cpl. 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 U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country. 

Larry Maxam rests today in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, O'ahu, Hawai'i. He appears on Panel 36E, Line 78 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

His Vietnam-era unit, 1st Battalion/4th Marines, serves in the defense of the United States and liberty today from MCB Camp Pendelton, California. Starting last December, they have been forward deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in the Western Pacific.

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