Memorial honors memory of Oregon man twice held as POW after enlisting at age 12

Robert Maxey will be buried this spring at Arlington National Cemetery. A memorial in his honor was held December 14, 2017. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - Robert Maxey lied about his age to join his brothers in the fight against the Japanese in the Phillipines at age 12.

Maxey served the U.S. in both Korea and three tours in Vietnam.

He was twice held as a POW: first during World War II, and again in the Korean War.

A career military man, Maxey was a decorated war veteran - and a real-life hero.

"Those medals that he wore so proudly were not so much for taking lives, as all combat veterans do, but for saving lives," his wife Ardean Maxey said Thursday at a memorial for her late husband. "He taught his men how to fight, how to survive and how to serve with honor."

Maxey received not one but two Distinguished Service Crosses.

The first recognized him for saving wounded crew from a tank hit by heavy fire.

The second?

"For singlehandedly eliminating 15 enemy personnel with only a few grenades and - catch this part - hand-to-hand combat," said Eddie Wangenstein, Director of Chaplain Services. "That's where it gets difficult. It's one thing to fire upon your enemy from a distance away. It's another thing to be up close and see his face."

"Being in his presence was a great, great honor," Wangenstein added.

The memorial service was held at the South Hills Rehabilitation Center in South Eugene, where Maxey was a resident.

The honor and respect for Maxey was evident in the emotional words of those who cared for this true American hero.

"We had a hero," Wangenstein said. "We had a hero with us, and we're honored to know him."

Maxey will be buried this spring at Arlington National Cemetery.

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