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First Name: Melvin

Last Name: Maas

Birthplace: Duluth, MN, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Joseph

Date of Birth: 14 May 1898

Date of Death: 13 April 1964

Rank: Major General

Years Served:
Melvin Joseph Maas

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Melvin Joseph Maas
Major General, U.S. Marine Corps

Melvin Joseph Maas was born on 14 May 1898 in Duluth, MN. He grew up in St. Paul, graduating from St. Thomas College in 1919.

Maas received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy in 1917, but was so anxious to join the World War I effort, that he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Private. Although he did not see combat during the war, he did earn his wings as a Naval Aviator, and in 1925 was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve.

Elected to Congress as a Republican in 1926, he served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where he expressed great concern about the air defenses of Washington, DC. To dramatize his point, he rented a biplane in 1929 and buzzed the Capitol Dome during a joint session of Congress. Upon landing, he stated that with one bomb he could have wiped out the entire government.

Maas caused another stir in the House in 1932. This time, however, it was for his heroics. While he was speaking on the floor, a man brandishing a handgun rose to his feet in the House Gallery and demanded that he be allowed to address the House regarding some personal business. Maas held the floor with his authoritative presence, calmly but sternly informed the gentleman that no one was allowed to address the House while carrying a weapon, and ordered him to drop the handgun. The man complied and immediately was taken into custody. For his coolness in this tense situation, he was awarded the Carnegie Silver Medal.

He lost his bid for re-election in 1932, but staged a comeback victory in 1934. While still in Congress, he served in the South Pacific as a Colonel in the Marine Corps. In 1944, after 16 years in the House, he was defeated for re-election and so chose to remain on active duty in the Pacific. During an attack on Okinawa, he suffered damage to his optic nerve from the fragments of an exploding bomb. The incident caused permanent damage that led to his total blindness in 1951. He retired from the Marine Corps Reserve with the rank of Major General In 1952. 

Maas was not discouraged by his impairment. In 1949, President Harry S. Truman appointed him to the President's Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped, a Committee he chaired from 1954 until his death in 1964. During that period, he dedicated his efforts to assisting Disabled Veterans and served as National Commander of the Disabled American Veterans and the Blinded Veterans Association.

Death and Burial

Major General Melvin Joseph Maas died on 13 April 1964 in Bethesda, MD. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 2791   Created by: MHOH




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