Major John Turner “Red Max” Maxwell, Jr., USMC (Ret), 80, of Marietta, Georgia, passed from this life on 07 August 2012 at Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, Georgia. The “Red Max” went to Vietnam as a Naval Aviator with HMM-265 on USS Boxer in April 1966 and served with distinction and a dash of verve. He usually set his alarm for just before Armed Forces Radio came on the air at 0600 so he could yell, along with the DJ (famously played by Robin Williams), “Good morning, Vietnam!” He also wore a Santa Claus suit over his flight suit to deliver hot chow to the troops in the field during Christmas, 1966. Those kids were diving into muddy foxholes and coming out with cameras to get a shot of Santa at the controls of a CH-46. Good stick, good leader, good man and Marine.
Major Maxwell was born 15 March 1932 in Braddock, Pennsylvania, to parents John Turner Maxwell, Sr. and Miriam Estella (Hays) Maxwell. Major Maxwell grew up in Swissvale, Pennsylvania, and New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
In May 1952, at age 20, Major Maxwell enlisted in the United States Marine Corp as an Intelligence Clerk. During his enlisted time, he served in the Korean Conflict. In 1955, he entered Naval Aviator Cadet (NAVCAD) training in Pensacola, Florida, and upon graduation in November 1956, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. During his NAVCAD training, Major Maxwell met and fell in love with Miss Barbara Ann “Bobbie” Gaston, of nearby Union Church, AL. John and Bobbie were married the day after his graduation, 21 November 1956, and remained a devoted couple for over 55 years. They had two children, John Turner Maxwell III, and Julie Ann Maxwell.
Major Maxwell’s 22 years of service in the USMC included stateside assignments in Florida, California, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, Hawaii, and Georgia, and overseas duty in Japan, the Mediterranean Sea, Korea, and Vietnam. Though initially trained as a fixed-wing pilot, Major Maxwell transitioned to become a helicopter pilot in 1963. As a helicopter pilot, he served selflessly and with distinction in the Vietnam War, performing many heroic acts which saved countless lives. For his actions, he was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross and other medals for valor.
Major Maxwell retired from the USMC in March 1974. After his retirement he remained in Marietta, Georgia, following his final assignment with the Marine Air Reserve Training Detachment (MARTD) at Naval Air Station Atlanta. He entered college at Georgia State University and, in 1977, earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. His post-military employment included Cobb County Parks and Recreation and the Cobb County Department of Corrections. Major Maxwell was known for his quick wit and engaging smile. He was an adept story-teller and had a particular fondness for cookies, duct tape, and the color yellow.
Above all, his devotion to family was unsurpassed. Major Maxwell is survived by his wife, Barbara, son John Maxwell III and his wife Jennifer Brothers Maxwell, daughter Julie Norman and her husband Lt Col Kenneth E. Norman, grandchildren John T. Maxwell IV, Timothy I. Maxwell, Kenneth E. Norman II, Scott J. Maxwell, Andrew P. Maxwell, Grace E. Maxwell, and Christie E. Maxwell, sister Lois Stromp and her husband John G. Stromp, and nephews John and Michael Stromp.
Viewing was held Thursday, 09 August 2012, 6:30-900 PM at Winkenhofer Funeral Home, 2950 Cobb Pkwy, Kennesaw, Georgia, 30152. Funeral was Friday morning, 9:30 AM, same location. Interment was at 11:30 AM Georgia National Cemetery, Canton, Georgia.
[Adapted from a family-placed obituary published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Aug. 9, 2012]