From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Louis Maxfield '07

Date of birth: November 19, 1883

Date of death: August 24, 1921

Age: 37

Lucky Bag

From the 1907 Lucky Bag:


1907 Maxfield 1.jpg

Louis was lost on August 24, 1921 when the British-built airship R-38, intended for US Navy use as ZR-2, crashed near Hull, England. Forty-four of the 49 men aboard died.

From Together We Served:

Comdr. Louis H. Maxfield, U.S.N., who was in charge of the U.S. Rigid Air Detachment in training at Howden, and who was to be the Commanding Officer of the ill-fated airship on the flight to America, was born in 1883 at St. Paul, Minnesota. He entered the Naval Aviation service in 1914, and was promoted to Temporary Commander in 1918. During the War he was in command of the U.S. Naval Station at Painbaeuf, France, and served with distinction. During a flight in the French airship "Capitaine Caussin" he dived overboard from a great height and rescued an enlisted man who had fallen overboard. Comdr. Maxfield was decorated by the Italian Red Cross with a silver medal for distinguished work during the Messina earthquake, with the French Naval Life-saving Medal (Silver), was an Officer of the Legion of Honour, and was decorated by the U.S. Government with the Navy Cross and the Victory Medal.

He was designated Naval Aviator #17 (LTA) in 1915.

Louis was survived by his wife and two children; he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Related Articles

Valentine Bieg '10, Emory Coil '12, and Henry Hoyt '14 were also lost when ZR-2 crashed.


On July 2, 1943, at a celebration for the christening of the newest Goodyear-built K ship, Louis and eight other men lost in lighter-than-air flight were honored with a memorial tablet on a granite rock at the Wingfoot Lake station at Suffield, Ohio. The other honorees were: LCDR Zachary Lansdowne '09 in the Shenandoah crash in 1925, LT Charles Bauch on the U.S.S. Akron in 1931, LCDR Emory Coil '12 in 1921, LT Arthur R. Houghton in 1925, LT Henry Hoyt '14 in 1921, LT J. B. Lawrence in 1925, LT C. G. Little in 1921, and LT Frank Trotter '23 in 1942.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

July 1907

Midshipman, Illinois

Others at this command:

January 1908

Midshipman, Illinois

January 1909

Ensign, Illinois

Others at this command:

January 1910

Ensign, Montana

January 1911

Ensign, Paducah

Others at this command:

January 1912

Lieutenant (j.g.), Paducah

January 1913

Lieutenant (j.g.), Receiving ship, Norfolk

January 1914

Lieutenant (j.g.), Receiving ship, Norfolk

January 1915

Lieutenant (j.g.), Naval Aeronatic Station, Pensacola, Florida

Others at this command:

January 1916

Lieutenant, Aeronautic Inspection Duty

January 1917

Lieutenant, USS North Carolina

March 1918

Lieutenant Commander, Naval Air Station, Painboef, France

January 1919

Commander, Naval Headquarters, London, England

Others at this command:

January 1920

Commander, Bureau of Navigation

Others at this command:

January 1921

Commander, Air base, Yorkshire, England

Class of 1907

Louis is one of 13 members of the Class of 1907 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.