Melvin Maas

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Melvin Joseph Maas
Melvin Joseph Maas.jpg
Major General Melvin J. Maas, USMCR
Born (1898-05-14)May 14, 1898
Duluth, Minnesota
Died April 14, 1964(1964-04-14) (aged 65)
Bethesda, Maryland
Place of Burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Seal of the United States Marine Corps.svg United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1917–1925, 1941-1952
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Service number 0-4104
Commands held Awasa Air Base

World War I
World War II

Awards Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Purple Heart
Relations LTC Patricia Bennett, USMC (Daughter)

Melvin Joseph Maas (May 14, 1898 – April 14, 1964) was a U.S. Representative from Minnesota and decorated Major General of the United States Marine Corps Reserve during World War II.

Early years[edit]

Melvin Joseph Maas was born in Duluth, Minnesota, May 14, 1898. He moved with his parents to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1898. Educated in the public schools, he enlisted the United States Marine Corps on April 6, 1917 as a Private. He underwent flying training course and was designated Naval aviator in the Marine Corps. He served for brief period in Haiti and during World War I, Maas flew reconnaissance missions over Atlantic ocean, while stationed on Azores.

Political career[edit]

After the War, Maas served with the Marine Corps until 1925, when he received a Marine Corps commission and left active service, subsequently transferred to the Marine Corps Reserve. During that time, he also finished his studies at St. Thomas College at St. Paul and graduated in 1919. Maas later also attended the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis and subsequently joined his brothers in the insurance business.

During the Prohibition in the United States|Prohibition, Maas became involved in the anti-Prohibition platform, calling for the modification of Prohibition and allowing beer and wine drinking. He subsequently ran for Congress in 1926 and defeated incumbent Oscar Keller. He became the youngest member of Congress at age twenty-eight on November 2, 1926. Maas was subsequently elected as a Republican to the 70th, 71st, and 72nd Congresses (March 4, 1927 – March 3, 1933). He ran unsuccessfully for renomination in 1932.

A Gunman in the House Gallery

Maas as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

On December 13, 1932, a 25-year-old department store clerk Marlin Kemmerer from Allentown, Pennsylvania pulled a gun in the House visitors' gallery and demanded to be allowed to address the House in the matter of nation’s economic depression.

As members fled the chamber, Maas stood his ground and shouted to the man that no one was allowed to speak in the House while carrying a weapon and demanded that he throw it down. The man did so, was promptly arrested, and escorted from the House Chamber by police. For this act of courage, Maas received the Carnegie Medal.

Maas was re-elected to the 74th, 75th, 76th, 77th, and 78th Congresses (January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1945). During the 1930s, Maas also served as Commander of Reserve Marine Squadron in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

World War II[edit]

USMCR Squadron, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Melvin J. Maas in the centre, circa 1931.

During the World War II, Maas was recalled to the active service as Colonel and assigned to the staff of admiral William Halsey Jr. in summer 1941. He was later transferred to the staff of vice admiral Frank J. Fletcher, commander of Task Force 17. Maas later participated in the Solomon Islands campaign with that unit.

He was later transferred to the staff of South West Pacific Area Commander, general Douglas MacArthur, where he was appointed Marine Corps observer. Maas served under MacArthur in Australia and later participated in New Guinea Campaign.

During the final phase of Battle of Milne Bay at the beginning of September 1942, Maas voluntered as observer and auxiliary gunner of the bomber plane for reconnaissance mission. During the eight hours lasting flight, he helped to disable enemy airdrom and participated in dropping of food and supplies to the isolated US Army outpost. For his efforst during the mission, Maas was decorated by the Army with the Silver Star on September 3, 1942.

Maas continued to serve in the South Pacific until fall 1942, when he was ordered back to the United States for further duty in Congress. He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1944 to the 79th Congress and returned back to active duty with the Marine Corps. He later participated in the battle of Okinawa and was appointed Awasa Air Base commander in May 1945. In this capacity, Maas was decorated with Legion of Merit with Combat "V" for his efforts as base commander. He was subsequently wounded by enemy bomb in the face. This caused permanent damage of his optic nerve that later led to his total blindness.

Postwar career[edit]

Maas was special advisor to the House Naval Affairs Committee in 1946. From 1947 to 1951, he was assistant to the chairman of the board of the Sperry Corporation in New York City. He retired from the Marine Corps on August 1, 1952 at the rank of major general.

In 1949, he became a member of the President’s Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped; he served as chairman from 1954 to 1964. He had been stricken with total blindness in August 1951.[1]

Maas was a resident of Chevy Chase, Maryland until his death in Bethesda, Maryland on April 13, 1964. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


Here is the ribbon bar of Major general Melvin J. Maas:

Naval Aviator Badge.jpg
Bronze star
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Naval Aviator Badge
1st Row Silver Star Legion of Merit with Combat "V"
2nd Row Purple Heart Navy Presidential Unit Citation with one star Reserve Special Commendation Ribbon Reserve Good Conduct Medal with two stars
3rd Row Haitian Campaign Medal World War I Victory Medal with aviation clasp American Defense Service Medal with Base Clasp Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three service stars
4th Row American Campaign Medal World War II Victory Medal Marine Corps Reserve Ribbon Armed Forces Reserve Medal


Correspondence, reports, photographs, diaries, and professional papers are available for research use.[2]


External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Oscar Keller
U.S. Representative from Minnesota's 4th congressional district
March 4, 1927 – March 3, 1933
Succeeded by
At large on a General ticket:
Henry M. Arens, Ray P. Chase, Theodore Christianson, Einar Hoidale, Magnus Johnson, Harold Knutson, Paul John Kvale, Ernest Lundeen, Francis Shoemaker
Preceded by
At large on a General ticket:
Henry M. Arens, Ray P. Chase, Theodore Christianson, Einar Hoidale, Magnus Johnson, Harold Knutson, Paul John Kvale, Ernest Lundeen, Francis Shoemaker
U.S. Representative from Minnesota's 4th congressional district
January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1945
Succeeded by
Frank Starkey