Melvin Joseph Maas
Major General, United States Marine Corps
Member of Congress
in Minnesota, May 14, 1898, he was afflicted with arthritis, diabetes,
ulcers and heart ailments, but still traveled extensively during his ten
years as Chairman of a Presidential Committee on the Handicapped. He nearly
became an Army officer and had received an appointment to West Point. However,
in 1917, eager to get into World War I, he enlisted in the Marine Corps
as a Private. He did not see combat in the war, but did learn how to fly
and became forming very definite ideas about the role of air power in combat.
While serving as a Member of Congress from Minnesota, he was once addressing the House of Representatives when a deranged man in the visitor gallery jumped to his feet, gun in hand, and demanded to be allowed to address the House. Maas 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 and was prompted arrested and escorted from the House Chamber by police. His courage in that situation earned him a Carnegie Medal. Serving as a Republican, he was defeated for re-election in the Democratic landslide, led by Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1932, but returned to the House two years later and was subsequently re-elected another four times.
He had been commissioned in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1925 and was a Reserve Colonel at the outbreak of World War II and, on his own request, he was returned to active duty.
In 1945 he was wounded by enemy bomb fragments, which caused his blindness. He returned to active duty when the Korean War broke out and was a member of the Reserve Force Policy Board. When another General once pointed out to him that he was probably the only blind general who had ever served on active duty, Maas responded, "Oh, no General, only the first to admit it."
During his military career he was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Silver Star and the Purple Heart Medal.
He died at Washington, D.C. on April 13, 1964 and was laid to rest in Section 34 of Arlington National Cemetery.
On February 21, 1997, Katherine E. (Baumer)
Maas, of Silver Spring, MD, beloved wife of the late Major General Melvin
J. Maas, USMC (Retired.); beloved mother of Joe Maas; beloved step mother
of Marianne Catterton, Katherine Martino and the late Lieutenant Colonel
Patricia Bennett, USMC (Retired.); loving grandmother of 10 grandchildren.
Friends may call at HINES-RINALDI FUNERAL HOME, 11800 New Hampshire Ave.,
Silver Spring, MD, on Tuesday, February 25, from 6 to 9 p.m. where services
will be held on Wednesday, February 26 at 11 a.m. Interment Arlington National
Cemetery, Thursday, February 27 at 9 a.m. The family suggests that memorial
contributions may be made to the Catholic Community at Relay Building Fund,
5025 Cedar Ave., Relay, MD 21227.
Courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives:
from Minnesota; born in Duluth, Minn., May 14, 1898; moved with his parents
to St. Paul, Minn., in 1898; educated in the public schools; was graduated
from St. Thomas College at St. Paul in 1919; attended the University of
Minnesota at Minneapolis; engaged in the insurance business; during the
First World War served in the aviation branch of the Marine Corps in 1918
and 1919; officer in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1925 and retired with
rank of major general August 1, 1952; elected as a Republican to the Seventieth,
Seventy-first, and Seventy-second Congresses (March 4, 1927-March 3, 1933);
unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1932; received the Carnegie
Silver Medal for disarming a maniac in the United States House of Representatives
in December 1932; elected to the Seventy-fourth and to the four succeeding
Congresses (January 3, 1935-January 3, 1945); unsuccessful candidate for
reelection in 1944 to the Seventy-ninth Congress; served in the South Pacific
as a colonel in the United States Marine Corps 1942-1945, while still a
Member of Congress; special adviser to the House Naval Affairs Committee
in 1946; assistant to the chairman of the board of the Sperry Corporation,
New York City, 1947-1951; became a member of the Presidentís Committee
on Employment of the Physically Handicapped in 1949 and served as chairman
1954-1964; had been stricken with total blindness in August 1951; was a
resident of Chevy Chase, Md., until his death in Bethesda, Md., April 13,
1964; interment in Arlington National Cemetery.
Photo courtesy of Ron Williams