Member of the Regiment biography for
Joseph Maxwell Cleland (1997)
Sen. Max Cleland, U.S. senator from Georgia, served in the
Army from 1965 to 1968 and as a Signal Corps officer from Oct. 18, 1967 to Dec. 23, 1968
in Vietnam, where he was severely wounded in a grenade explosion. Sen. Cleland was an aide
to then-BG Tom Rienzi at Fort Monmouth, N.J., when he volunteered for duty with 1st
Air Cavalry Division in Vietnam. First assigned to 1st Cavalrys Signal
battalion, CPT Cleland then volunteered as communications officer for 2d Battalion, 12th
Cavalry, which had been chosen for Operation Pegasus the relief of Khe Sanh
in April 1968. CPT Cleland was on a mountaintop with his Signal team to set up a radio
relay when he lost his legs and right arm to a grenade explosion. For Khe Sanh he received
the Bronze Star for meritorious service and Silver Star for gallantry in action.
In 1970 he was elected to the Georgia state senate at age
28 the youngest member and only Vietnam vet at the time. He wrote the state law
that makes public facilities more accessible to the elderly and handicapped.
In 1977 he was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to head
the U.S. Veterans Administration. He was the youngest VA administrator ever at age 34 and
the first Vietnam veteran to head the agency.
In 1982 he was elected the youngest Georgia Secretary of
State. He won a national award from the U.S. Small Business Administration for creating
the First Stop Business Information Center in the Secretary of States office.
In 1996 he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he serves
on the Armed Services, Governmental Affairs and Small Business committees. He was named
one of Time magazines Rising Democrats and was honored by the National
Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C., with a Victory Award for the way he has
overcome his disability. The Signal Regiment inducted Sen. Cleland as a Distinguished
Member in 1997.
Back to main Distinguished Member of the Regiment page
Regimental Special Projects Officer
Cleland as a Signal Corps captain,
Cleland as U.S. senator from Georgia.