Donald F. Maxwell
Private First Class, U.S. Army
358th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division
Entered the Service from: Nebraska
Buried at: Plot F Row 16 Grave 38
Normandy American Cemetery
Awards: Purple Heart
Storming ashore upon Omaha Beach, Normandy, France on D-Day, June 6, 1944, Don Maxwell was severely wounded and died six days later.
When notified the family was asked what they wanted done with his earthly remains. “Leave him be,” they must have replied since he was buried in a cemetery created in France for fallen American soldiers.
The family seldom mentioned the brother of my Mother’s father. I never understood why he was so rarely mentioned.
From a small rural Nebraska town, the product of poor working-class folks, Don Maxwell is not mentioned in any published books that I am aware of. Buried deep within a government storage vault among a mass of other records is his very brief “story” told in an “official” way.
That record, his headstone and one mention upon a government Website listing the internments within that cemetery in France is all that exists of the memory of a life taken while obeying the call to duty.
Well, those and the memory of a very few people, most reaching advanced age and who will be passing on themselves in the not-too-distant future.
Few of the kinfolk of my generation give a damn. And my generation’s offspring care even less.
That’s only natural and to be expected.
Still, that thought saddens me.
I was born a decade after Don Maxwell left us; thus I never knew him. I sought as much information about him as I could after learning about his existence in my younger years but the tight-lipped kin revealed little.
Never could figure out why. Made no sense to me.
It’s not that the kinfolk are anti-military.
Uncle Jim and his brother, my Dad, were World War Two Pacific Theater Marines. Uncle Jim was called back for Korea where he confronted the “human wave” tactics of the ChiComs at the Frozen Chosin.
Various other relatives were in the military at various times though few of us from my generation (the Baby Boomers) onwards entered the military.
I want to place the memory of one of MANY fallen American’s name in one more spot upon the world.
Rest in peace Donald Maxwell. You were fighting for a just cause.
***** UPDATE *****
I received an e-mail from a Web searcher who found this blog post about Don Maxwell.
She had visited various sites of the D-Day event during a trip to France, including the cemetery where Don Maxwell is buried. Here is a part of the message she sent:
On July 26, 2013, I visited the American National Cemetery in Normandy, France. The experience was powerful, and I felt compelled to take a few photos of grave markers, with the idea of researching the men who were buried here when I returned home. One of the photos I took was the gravesite of Donald F. Maxwell. I just read your blog entry that I found through a google search. I want you to know that your great-uncle Donald was thought of the day I visited his gravesite. I prayed for his family and thanked him for his sacrifice for our freedom. I would love to send you the photo I took
Hooray for the Web!!! I will never have the opportunity to visit that far-away place where brave people stormed ashore to battle a blight upon the world. But somebody who did have the chance to visit took a picture of Don Maxwell’s grave and then took it upon herself to take the time to seek information about those names displayed on the grave stones.
Of course I accepted her generous offer and am proud to display that picture here.
Thank you so very much Karen Schleusener!!! It means a lot to me and to those who appreciate the sacrifices those folks made during that fateful period; those who died, were injured and the lucky few who emerged physically unscathed but still had to carry the horrors they experienced.
A message sent with the picture included the following:
Dennis Schleusener, served in the Army Air Corp from a month after the attack on Pearl Harbor until October 1945 as a crew chief on a B-25. This is why I chose to photograph the marker of a Nebraska boy.
Mr. Schleusener was another of many Nebraskan’s who stepped up to do the tough work that had to be done to save this planet from evil.
Here is the picture a kind, thoughtful person took along with seeking knowledge about the person resting there.
Thank you!!! I feel this post is now complete.
May all that is good come your way Karen Schleusener… to you and yours along with the American military folks serving today wherever they may be.
May they all return home safely to their loved ones.