Almost Forgotten Hero – First Sergeant Maximo Yabes, U.S. Army (1932-1967)

1st Sgt Maximo Yabes, Medal of Honor, Vietnam War, U.S. Army
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1st Sgt Maximo Yabes, Medal of Honor, Vietnam War, U.S. Army

In a previous article I pointed out that no one wins the Medal of Honor.  It’s not something you get for winning a competition.  It’s a grateful country making their thank you visible to the nation.  1st Sergeant Maximo Yabes from Oakridge Oregon is one of our nation’s heroes who received the thanks of his country.



Yabes at a very young age moved with his family from Lodi California to Oakridge, Oregon  He attended primary and secondary school in Oakridge.  Not finding school to his liking, he dropped out of Oakridge High School in 1950 and joined the United States Army.


With almost 15 years of service in the Army Yabes, who was a First Sergeant with A company 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division was stationed at Cu Chi, a small hamlet northwest of Saigon. First Sergeant Yabes Company was assigned to provide security for a team of Army engineers who had been tasked with the duty of creating a clear zone of land between the Hamlet and a plantation.  The reason for creating this clear zone was to keep the enemy ambushers and snipers from using the thick jungle as cover.


It was on February 26th, 1967, a typical monsoonal day in South Vietnam, when an enemy force that outnumbered Yabes unit by almost 4 to 1 began attacking Yabes position.  Laying down heavy automatic weapons fire, the enemy breached the perimeter barbwire and was hurling grenades towards the command bunker.  Yabes moved into the bunker and covered several of his troops with his body.  Despite being struck many times by grenade fragments, Yabes moved to another bunker and, using a  grenade launcher, fired upon the enemy,  bringing any further  penetration of the perimeter to a halt. Yabes went on to assist two fallen comrades before he noticed an enemy machinegun within the perimeter which threatened the whole position. Yabes attacked the enemy machine gun crew killing the entire crew before being mortally wounded himself.


Medal of Honor citation


Rank and organization: First Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company A, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near Phu Hoa Dong, Republic of Vietnam, February 26, 1967.

Entered service at: Eugene, Oregon

Born: January 29, 1932, Lodi, California.


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Sgt. Yabes distinguished himself with Company A, which was providing security for a land clearing operation. Early in the morning the company suddenly came under intense automatic weapons and mortar fire followed by a battalion sized assault from 3 sides. Penetrating the defensive perimeter the enemy advanced on the company command post bunker. The command post received increasingly heavy fire and was in danger of being overwhelmed. When several enemy grenades landed within the command post, 1st Sgt. Yabes shouted a warning and used his body as a shield to protect others in the bunker. Although painfully wounded by numerous grenade fragments, and despite the vicious enemy fire on the bunker, he remained there to provide covering fire and enable the others in the command group to relocate. When the command group had reached a new position, 1st Sgt. Yabes moved through a withering hail of enemy fire to another bunker 50 meters away. There he secured a grenade launcher from a fallen comrade and fired point blank into the attacking Viet Cong stopping further penetration of the perimeter. Noting 2 wounded men helpless in the fire swept area, he moved them to a safer position where they could be given medical treatment. He resumed his accurate and effective fire killing several enemy soldiers and forcing others to withdraw from the vicinity of the command post. As the battle continued, he observed an enemy machinegun within the perimeter which threatened the whole position. On his own, he dashed across the exposed area, assaulted the machinegun, killed the crew, destroyed the weapon, and fell mortally wounded. 1st Sgt. Yabes’ valiant and selfless actions saved the lives of many of his fellow soldiers and inspired his comrades to effectively repel the enemy assault. His indomitable fighting spirit, extraordinary courage and intrepidity at the cost of his life are in the highest military traditions and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.


First Sergeant Maximo Yabes was buried with full military honors at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado.


The information in this article was sourced from a variety of sources both internal and external.  Every effort was made to ensure that the information is current and correct. These articles are presented to honor the heroes they are written about.