Max E. Sawyer – Park 15

The old adage “when you’re not looking for it”..  is so true. Max’s photo and some extra personal details appeared recently so this story got a little re-do.  It’s just a sweet little nod to someone who didn’t make it.  Thanks for reading.. andrea


Max Elton Sawyer [1925- 1944] led the life of a newspaper boy with early deliveries before he went off to Detroit’s beautiful Cooley High School.  After graduating he worked at National Sheet Metal before enlisting for World War II in 1943.

Max Sawyer, June 1945. Detroit News.
Max Sawyer, June 1945. Detroit News.

He was the only son of Iowans Opal [Jennings] and Ernest Sawyer. They migrated to Detroit where Ernest supported the family as a mailman and was active in the Letter Carriers Union serving as the president.  In 1928, Max turned three and his mother passed away;  he and Ernst  moved in with grandparents.

As a late teen, Max enlisted to serve in World War II on July 6, 1943.  He earned the rank of T/5 or Technician 5th Grade and was assigned as an ‘Aid Man’ to the medical unit within the Army’s 35th Infantry, 2nd Battalion.  He eventually found himself stationed in France where the action and the honor began.

Sawyer earned the Bronze Star for getting 7 wounded men back to safety through a barrage of artillery fire.  A few months later, courage and ‘duty above self’ earned  him the Silver Star and cost him his life on September 21, 1944.

With heavy fighting Sawyer went into an open field to administer care to a wounded soldier.  He became  severely wounded but refused to evacuate to protect his charge from further injury.  The litter (stretcher) came to his aid and Sawyer was dead.

In a touching gesture, Sawyer’s brothers in war named the Army field hospital after him. He rests with his parents Ernest and Opal in Mount Ayr, Iowa at Rose Hill Cemetery.

The US Army 35th Infantry insignia. The white cross signifies the marking of the Santa Fe Trail where the unit trained for combat.
The white cross of the 35th Infantry insignia signifies the marking of the Santa Fe Trail where the unit trained for combat .


Max is remembered in Detroit with a small playground located on Lyndon near Schaefer about a mile south of his last residence on Marlowe Street in Detroit.

Interestingly, Max perished the same day as Detroiter Ray Zussman [See Park 12 ] – they served in different battalions yet shared the common bond of duty before self.

Copyright 2015.  Andrea Gallucci. All Rights Reserved.   35th Infantry Insignia is a public domain logo; credit assigned to Steven Williamson, creator 2007.