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A soldier's story: Who can help with details?

By Jeff Fox jeff.fox@examiner.net

A family in Europe is asking for Eastern Jackson County’s help in finding out more about a local man who died in World War II.

The soldier is George A. Maxon. He worked at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence and then went into the Army in March 1943. He was a technician fifth class; his obituary lists him as a sergeant. He was in the 2nd Battalion, 347th Infantry Regiment, 87th Division. He was awarded the Purple Heart. 

He was killed in action on Feb. 2, 1945 in Belgium. He is buried in Henri-Chapelle American War Cemetery and Memorial in eastern Belgium. A couple in Maasbracht, Netherlands – Ed and Anita Tiebax – adopted his grave 10 years ago and tend to it, as many Europeans do in thanks for the Americans who served and sacrificed in the war.

They have compiled much of Maxon’s story but have been unable to make contact with his family. And they would like to find a photo of Maxon. It’s possible he still has family in the area. 

Anyone who can help can reach Examiner editor Jeff Fox at jeff.fox@examiner.net.

Census, Army and other records tell us a good deal about Maxon. He was born Jan. 28, 1912, in Oklahoma and apparently grew up there. Census records show him living in Oklahoma in 1935, when he was 23, though an obituary lists him as a graduate of Raytown High School.

By 1937, he had come to the Blue Springs area. That year he married Theda Hall. They took out a marriage license in Jackson County on Dec. 24. He was 25, and she was 21.

He registered for the draft on Oct. 16, 1940, at the Courthouse in Independence. His draft card lists him as white, 5-foot-7, 137 pounds. He had brown hair, gray eyes and a light complexion. He was self-employed and listed his address as simply Blue Springs. 

The 1940 census shows George and Theda living on a farm on “Old Blue Springs Road” in Sni-a-Bar Township. His obituary said he – presumably both of them – attended Blue Springs Baptist Church. He was a member of the Odd Fellows lodge in Blue Springs.

On Feb. 27, 1943, he enlisted in the Army at Fort Leavenworth – for the duration of the war plus six months, as was the policy at the time. Enlistment records say he had done a year of college, and his civilian life occupation was pegged as “bookkeepers and cashiers, except bank cashiers.”

His obituary in The Kansas City Star says he was sent overseas in January 1944. That obituary also lists four brothers in the ranks as well – one serving in France, one in the Philippines, one stationed in California and one in the Merchant Marine.

He was killed in action Feb. 2, 1945, in or near St. Vith, Belgium, just after the Battle of the Bulge, The Army posted no specific cause of death but lists him as a battle casualty and very generally describes extensive wounds. He had turned 33 a week earlier.

A white cross marks his grave at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in eastern Belgium. The cemetery’s 57 acres hold the graves of 7,992 American servicemen, many of them killed in the attempted push through Belgium and Holland – Operation Market Garden – in September 1944 and in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 and January 1945.

There is no indication that George and Theda had children. In 1947, she married George’s younger brother, Bill, who served in the Army in the Philippines and was awarded the Silver Star, the third-highest honor given for valor in combat. Theda and Bill had a son, David, listed as living in Kansas City at the time of Bill’s death in Blue Springs in 1997. A grandson, Chris Maxon, lived in San Francisco. Theda died in Blue Springs in 2005.