Megellas is the 82nd Airborne Division's most decorated officer,having won the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Star Medals, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts.
On January 28, 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge, Lt. James Megellas led his platoon of the 82nd Airborne Division on a surprise and devastating attack on a much larger advancing German force, A significant number of German soldiers were killed or captured, and many others fled. In an act of fearless courage, Megellas singlehandedly destroyed an attacking German Mark V tank with two hand-held grenades. He then led the charge of his men and seized Herresbach, Belgium, during this fierce action of the Battle of the Bulge. Lt. Megellas's aggressive, fearless and superior leadership inspired his men to excel.
After serving four years as a rifle platoon leader during World War II, that included many combat jumps into Italy and Holland, Megellas left the active Army and served for 16 years in the Army Reserve. He retired as a lieutenant colonel.
Credited with being the 82nd Airborne Division's most decorated officer, his awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Star Medals, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts. In addition, Lt. Megellas was selected by Gen. James Gavin to serve as the representative of the 82nd Airborne Division to receive the Military Order of Willhelm Orange Lanyard from the Dutch Minister of War during World War II.
To this day, James Megellas continues to inspire. In 2006, 61 years after that momentous battle, James ''Maggie'' Megellas set foot on another battlefield with fellow 82nd Airborne Division soldiers, this time in a current theater of war--Afghanistan. Lt. Col. Megellas listened to the young soldiers as they shared their stories of the past year of deployment and he recounted with them his own experiences during World War II. On Memorial Day, 92-year-old James Megellas was in the Netherlands to once again receive the Military Order of Willhelm Orange Lanyard for outstanding service from Her Majesty Queen Beatrix.
VFW Post 2195 adjutant Larry Nordgaard declares, "We are honored to participate because this program addresses military history and it helps explain to our youth the high price of freedom." Col. Megellas will be escorted by Boy Scout Troop 328.